watercolor 22 x 30 inches
Recently, I read some thoughts by Chuck Close.
If you don’t know who he is, I would suggest
you look him up and learn something from him.
His work is in every museum in every major city in the world.
So, I think he is worth paying attention to.
is for amateurs.”
What, do you suppose, he means by that?
There has to be some wisdom attached to that
Let’s let it settle a bit while I
move on to something else which is extraordinarily important.
Painting is one of the few activities in our lives where we
must be, (and usually are) completely, totally in the present moment.
(Being in the moment is a gift.
That’s why they call it “the present.”)
In my experience of teaching other painters and guiding them
in their quests to better their skills, I have found that many (most) of them
are deeply concerned about many different things relating to their
What other people think, the
outcome (good or bad), their spouse’s likes or dislikes, their art education,
whether or not they are ‘good enough’ and on and on and on.
Frankly, every one of these thoughts removes the person from
being in the moment . . . .from being fully present with what is happening on
the paper or canvas at THIS moment NOW.
More bluntly, every one of these thoughts sabotages the artist’s work.
These are not my original thoughts or ideas, but the wisdom
of different eastern religions.
is a sense of spirituality about this pattern of thought . . . . .and it all
has to do with happiness and satisfaction in living.
For example, if one is concerned about how
they were treated or abused as children and projecting their anger or
disappointment with that treatment, they are clearly not living in the present.
They are creating every step of their life by
focusing on the past.
The painter who
worries about what ‘others’ will think about their painting . . . .or is upset
because ‘it isn’t coming out the way I want it to . . . . is not being present
in the here and now of making the painting.
Their thoughts are quite distant from being fully present in the process.
Some years ago, I read a book entitled “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman. . . . .It has been a long time since reading it
. . . so, I think
that was the title.
There followed a movie by the same name.
The story is about the gradual enlightenment
of a young man about living in the here and now.
The story culminates with his performance on
the horizontal bar in a gymnastics competition in which his team score is
behind the leader.
Of course, he makes
the performance of his life and his team wins the gold medal.
He was asked what is was that inspired him, or how he
focused so well to pull out the winning of the gold medal.
He replied, “Make every move about the move, not about the
Fearing or focusing on the
outcome removes you from what is happening right now . . . . it takes away from
Watching him speak in the movie, I sat bolt upright in my seat at the moment he explained
that to his teammates!
This applies completely to painting
“To make every stroke about the
stroke, not about the outcome!”
That realization has helped me so much in making
solid, fresh, spontaneous watercolor
You have heard it
Put the paint down and leave it
every stroke about the stroke . . . . .not about the outcome!”
The realization grew more as I came to know that there are no ordinary moments.
Every one matters.
If our complete attention is to what is
happening in each moment, then our perceptions multiply as our enjoyment of
life also grows.
If our attentions are put onto whether or not this “picture
is going to come out right,” then we are missing the necessary focus to have
that actually happen . . . . . .to focus on what is happening on the paper or
canvas right NOW and being in complete presence with it.
My philosophy about painting is centered not on WHAT we
paint, but HOW it is painted.
painting is not about WHAT!
It is not
about anything but that one moment in time when the brush hits the canvas or
It has to be with focused
Mumbo Jumbo you say?
Well . . . . .maybe one day the dawn will come.
Now, to Mr. Close’s comment . . . . .it’s simple!
It is sort of like “tomorrow never comes.”
. . . . .that is waiting for the “right inspiration” or the right moment to
paint . . . . . .or the right mood, etc. might not actually ever come.
What he means is to just show up!!
the easel and go to work, regardless of how you feel.
Be in the moment with what the paint is doing on the canvas.
Make every stroke about the stroke!
Raise your consciousness to its ultimate
That is far from being amateur!