18 October 2015

Who Said Being Stubborn Was Bad?

Backstage Wait - 11x14" - Oil on linen

Who ever said stubbornness was a character flaw obviously wasn't a painter. It is my stubborn nature that keeps me going when the going gets tough. It's what keeps me coming back to the easel when I've lost all hope in my ability to paint. 

I last wrote about my frustrations of trying to 'get' the lessons learned on my recent workshop and how I thought I needed to go to an easier (for me) subject to try to learn the techniques better. And I did do a bird painting, but then my stubbornness brought me back to figures. Ballerina's to be exact. 

I never set out to be a figurative painter, and even when I've taken figurative workshops I've said I'm there to learn technique and the subject is secondary. But I seem to keep coming back to figures in my work. Especially ballerinas. I blame the first major exhibition I attended at the newly redesigned provincial art gallery - Degas. Although I'd often seen his work in pictures, seeing it in person affect me in ways that were totally unexpected. I was emotionally overwhelmed at the work, and it did play a major part in bringing me back into painting. 

What I saw in his work was beauty for sure, but also imperfection. It was my first time seeing impressionist work in person and it made me realize how wrong my ideas about art, and striving for realism were. It showed me why I always failed. 

I thought maybe if Degas was going to influence my work it would be through horses; and that is one of the subjects that impacted me most. His horses were not anatomically correct, but they still have impact, grace, and most important - emotion. 

Anyhow, back to my stubbornness...... Knowing that I would be intimidated by the figure and working from life at the workshop, I had practiced a couple of figurative paintings before I left for my course. Then I spent 4 days straight learning and painting, and when I got home immediately hit the easel again, where I've pretty much painted non-stop for the past week. 

My frustrations have been such that I've briefly considered giving up, but I've kept showing up. I've kept trying. Today - perhaps the effort is starting to show. I feel I made some progress. I've still got a long ways to go to reach the levels I want to reach (especially since that bar just keeps getting set higher and higher the more I progress). I know I will have many more discouraging days where I think about an easier career. (Maybe a baker. I'm a good cook, and people always need to eat!) But I also know my stubborn nature will keep me coming back. I'm not a quitter. Stubborn people rarely are. That's what makes this character trait an asset, not a flaw.