Thursday, January 5, 2017

Break it down

Wonder Water Image #3
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
The final image -- sorry
the photo is not a good quality.  I
am learning. It sold in NYC which is nice.
How do you draw, paint, a person, a scene, a car, a cloud?
How?  One million different ways of course -- no wait
are there 9 billion people on the planet by now (last time
I looked it was 7). That means currently there has to
be that many ways to do this thing called make a piece
of art.  All valid.
Wonder Water Image #3
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
An earlier stage -- coming together

Then there are the instructors, the rule makers.  They ride
in on white horses, or in Navy and tan Rolls Royces,
or yellow Lamborghinis, and they know everything about
how to make art.  Except for one important factor.  They
have no idea how to be you.  Silly though eh?  (I'm
Canadian -- we say eh)  Seems too simple?  Have you
ever met you except in the mirror.  Even if you have a twin
he/she is not you.

So.  I will give you a really simple answer.  Break it down.
Start with the least frightening part of the new thing you
are attempting. (Not the most difficult.) Sometimes if it's
really hard in your mind, you needs lots of breaks, and
maybe some meditation. And then go back, set the timer
(how long can you be there -- 5 minutes? 10?) and work
on the easiest part.  You may get so lost that when the timer
goes, it's annoying and you don't want to quit.
But every break brings you back new to you, and you get
another aha.
Wonder Water Image #3
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
And two earlier stages -- small steps

Some people are fast and this whole process
might take a day, or even a morning.  But others are slow
and need weeks for the same thing -- maybe even
an equally great result.  Don't ever answer that "So
how long did this take you?" question.  Because it
could have been an hour, and it could have been 30
years.  Both are fine.  Just say you aren't sure. (You're
not are you?  You're making art, not keeping a time
graph!) Smile though.  The whole process is your secret --
and isn't that good?  I think so.

Have a breaking it down and liking it day
Here's a funny video I found on the subject.


verna vogel said...

Hi Barbara! Long time since I commented on your blog, we've been taking some time off chez Verna.

I love this post, love your images showing the process and I REALLY love your thoughts about what is painting and who are we and how to do it. I'm teaching a class right now with a wider range of skill levels - one has been painting longer than I have and one has never held a paintbrush before, and everything in between - and it's been quite a challenge how to teach the total beginners... this post has a lot of gold nuggets in it, for me. Thank you so much for sharing!

And the finished painting is pure gold. You are a master at catching the facial expression, and despite many layers of paint the end result looks so fresh!


Barbara Muir said...

Thank you so much Verna. I have taught art, but don't completely understand how to teach
it. It seems so intuitive, and I'd be afraid of stopping someone from being themselves.
So you are brave and I admire you and your work so much. That was a good painting -- filled
with emotion because the subject was infinitely kind and helpful to me, and I admire her so
much. Happy New Year!


Portrait Artist

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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!