Friday, December 12, 2008

The Learning Process

I've been talking to my son who's at university tonight about
his courses. I know from the students I teach that
changing how well you are doing is greatly affected
by belief. It's very hard for young people to make
the connection between being positive, and
getting results. So I did what mothers do -- gave him
a pre-exam pep talk. My mother used to send
care packages filled with vitamin B rich foods. I
should do that too.

At the beginning of the evening I was looking at a
pile of exams that seemed to me to be about a mile
high. I kept marking, and marking and marking,
and the pile stayed exactly the same size. Of
course that was an optical illusion -- but if I kept
saying to myself that I'd never get through it -- I
wouldn't be writing to you now with every exam
marked in that pile, every word read and considered.

Winter scene
14 x 20 inches

Tonight I'm posting an image I did in a landscape
watercolour class with an excellent teacher. Right
away I can see what would bother him about the
painting -- the grasses -- and right away I see all
kinds of qualities I like, despite the grasses. At
the time I was trying to paint like my teacher,
Americo del Col, and like Skip Lawrence who was
my ultimate painting hero.

When I had mastered being like both of them,
I took a course with Skip and he had done the
unforgivable -- changed. White space? What
white space -- he painted with watercolour
direct from the tube onto the paper. Everything
was covered, much of the paper was painted
in opaque colour. He broke every watercolour
rule and turned out magnificent work.

Today I don't paint like either of them -- I
am actually developing a style and look of my
own. I don't think anything has changed except
absolutely everything about me. I've learned
(not completely I have lots of bad, hard times)
to enjoy my work, and trust creating what I
like -- and I've learned to believe in me, and
in my own taste most of the time. I work
on being positive, and have been lucky to
succeed more often than not.

Now I'm not a watercolour painter anymore,
but I have infinite appreciation for people
who are, like my friend Gill Cameron who
works magic with those tiny tubes.

Have a why-not-be-happy? day.


Karen said...

Such good, thoughtful reminders. Much needed (at least by me) today! Thanks for that.


Melinda said...

Your post is like a lovely chat by a warm fire. I like what you wrote about your son. I've sent my boy care packages with vitamins, but now I'll include vitamin B rich food!

You're so right about believing in yourself, moving along with positive thoughts and looking for the results. If we don't think positively, what will be the alternative?

The watercolor is beautiful. The mountains are powerful and strong, and the white space is particularly successful, too. I've heard of watercolorists who work as Skip Lawrence has done. Fascinating!

Best wishes to you and your dear family--M

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much. I'm glad you liked my post today.

Take care


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

Best wishes to you and your family too. I think we need a warm fire here -- it is sooo cold.

It can be a really hard job finding the positive sometimes, but artists need it. Thanks for being a positive influence in my life. I love both your paintings and writing.


Theresa Rankin said...

Fabulous simplicity and color... I love reading what you have to say, Barbara, you are very wonder your students do so well!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Theresa,

Thanks so much. My grades are in!!!
Finally -- it's been quite the couple of weeks and weekend.

Take care

Anonymous said...

It's been a long time since I've painted a w/c. Your painting has what so many of mine didn't. Simplicity. I really like this snow scene.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

Simplicity was the great forté of my teacher Americo del Col. He could paint a stretch of water with one broad brushstroke. I used to watch him in complete awe.

Acrylic is a whole different animal -- texture, depth. The shapes still have to be simple, but at the same
time complexity is possible. I like both.

Take care,


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!