Breaking Out of Bad Habit

"Three Directions"
Watercolor 15 x22 inches

As any other painter knows, we can get caught in painting habits we don't like . . . .and we can repeat them over and over, knowing all the while that this is a bad habit.

I suppose that I am as vulnerable to the vagaries of age as anyone and was blaming my bad habits on age . . . . .well, dammit, I am not that old!   And furthermore, I knew well what I needed to do to break out of this bad habit if being too tight in my painting adventures.   I needed to loosen up . . . . .But HOW?

This last week, I spent in Yosemite co-teaching a wonderful group of painters with Dale Laitinen.
I have always admired and respected Dale's style of painting, but more than that his design skills.   As well, he is a fine teacher in that he can articulate his thoughts and what he does on the painting as he paints.   As I was teaching, I could not help observe him in his demos.   It was exactly what I needed to break free of my absurd tight habit.   

The day this painting happened began quite cold while we began painting at the edge of the Merced River.   As we laid in our first washes, the paint crystalized right before our eyes!   It was 26 degrees and the river was freezing up, too!!   Nevertheless, as I stepped to the easel, I had a bit of a conversation with myself about how I was going to attack this painting day:  Solid designs and painting with big, loose gestures instead of making tight looking things in my painting.

As the day and the paintings finished, I pulled Dale aside and thanked him for the quality of his instruction . . . . .no it wasn't directed at me . . . . . .just the stuff I had seen and overheard was all that was needed to break out of a bad habit.   

What I gathered from this experience was an idea:   When I find that my habits are causing me concern in the way I paint, go paint with the very person who does the absolute opposite . . . . maybe some of it will rub off!

Happy Painting!