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Friday, November 1, 2013

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! 

5 comments:

sue said...

I once heard it recommended that for watercolour painting outdoors when it is freezing, the addition of vodka is useful. The person didn't specify where to add the vodka... = )

Catharina Engberg said...

This was a succesful "change of habit". Congratulations to a lovely fresh painting!

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Interesting Mike. I would not have guessed you were wrestling with "bad habits". I do like what you have done; it feels like a Mike Bailey painting. Exciting!

Maybe your ability to loosen up so successfully is because your core skills are strong. In any case, I hope you have great fun doing more.

Natalia said...

Loose, lively and colorful. very painterly too.
I love it.
Natalia

Ross Lynem said...

This is so beautiful! I just love this. Happy New Year Mike and thanks for sharing your art journey with us. Blessings in 2014.