Red Roses Scare The Hell Out Of Me

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Sometimes I like to paint a subject that is out of my comfort zone and use colors that give me a hard time. I choose subjects that require a different form of drawing, drawing that can be a bit restricting in nature. Subjects that call for a different approach, a bit more planning. The figure, with all my years of sketching, is quite simple, so this past month I have turned to buildings for my challenge. Red brick buildings with strong lighting to spark my appetite for color. Red has always given me a challenge, not sure why. Red roses scare the hell out of me.

Red brick buildings seem to be the perfect subject. One painted red was even more of a challenge. A scene I see every evening, the back of the buildings behind my studio, seemed perfect. I took to watching them as the sun set each evening, painting them in my mind. Mixing colors in my head and deciding how much shadow I wanted. I remember once seeing wash hung out to dry and thought how that could add to the life of the place. When I lived in New York City I remember wash lines strung from building to building. Always wondered how those lines were put up. I'm from an era when wash lines were an every Monday thing. Why Monday is another question.

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This new subject thing was raising memories and questions I hadn't figured on. Did not think I'd be able to think about other things while working on a painting of red brick buildings, but there I was, relaxing and settling into my own world. It's where I can relax and be at peace with myself and the world around me. Paintings that should be done in a day or two always take a week. All those questions that a painting raises, and the time to answer them... Especially when there is only my own thinking that is there to address them. Maybe I wasn't day dreaming back in grade school, maybe I was solving problems…? No, I was day dreaming. Day dreaming about being the fastest gun in the West. The man who cleaned up Dodge City.

You Tried, and Will Try Again

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Rock hard toast and coffee is what starts my day. Email first, then some Facebook. Other artist’s work gets me stared some days, other days seeing one of my own paintings in a different light does it. The Ohio State Marching Band gets me revved up for painting. Nothing about art frightens me. Nothing in my studio frightens me. Failures do not frighten me. In my studio I am king.

It was not always like that. The first day in art school my heart was beating so hard I could not move for the first half hour then another student came over and told me to relax and just put paint on my canvas. That student and I have been friends ever since. Sometime we forget how intimidating a blank canvas is for an artist. We forget who we are painting for and let thoughts of disappointing others settle into our heads. Once we realize we are kings when painting, creating art is a continuous reward to share with others. We see awards and rejection slips, with equal joy. Rejection simply means you tried and will try again. Rewards mean you tried and will try again. The real award is turning the lights off in your studio and leaving with a smile, or laying a wet painting on the car seat and smiling with a sunburn.

“My dad paints better than that,” is a comment I heard from a little girl while out painting. At least she took the time to look. Nothing worse than having people not see it, or you. I once had a man crawl through some bushes to see my painting. He scared up a million gnats, hundreds of them landing on my painting. Those gnats were a reward in a way. This man wanted to see my work so bad he crawled through bushes to see it. I did not try to pick off those gnats, just slapped more paint over them.

Some artists are so afraid of what others might say about their art they cannot bring themselves to paint. They let rejection stop them from opening up to the world. There are people out there waiting for your art.