Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm glad my battery died!

I teach a class called "Watercolor on the Run" every spring or summer. The purpose is to equip students to use their art to record their life, wherever it happens. Not a new concept-taking your art supplies with you to record vacation experiences with sketchbook paintings. But my spin is to always be ready. I have a purse kit, car kit, and a very extensive plein air set up. The latter I use most often these days since I've begun painting plein air with friends.
On our trip to visit my son in Chicago, I was snapping away with my camera thinking "wow that would make a great painting"! There is so much to see an do in Chicago and although we've seen and done most of it over the years already, we packed in the car and went to Lincoln Park Zoo for the day. While at the zoo, I was snapping photos of everything. And then the battery died...bummer.
So while everyone was in the reptile house-which holds little interest for me-I sat down and practiced a little of what I preach! I painted the Flamingo's. Now this was a challenge. First, Flamingo's stink! Second, have you ever tried to sketch a bunch of moving Flamingo's? This is why I use a camera. But it is also why you should be lucky enough to have the battery die! The camera lacks the feel of the place. Sometimes the camera changes the colors, or they just don't have the same impact they did in real time. (I'm talking your average reference photo taken with an SLR, not a good photo by someone who knows their stuff!) I doubt I would have taken the time to sit that long, what with the smell, and observe their movements which were very graceful. Emily and I discussed their color, a pale peachy pink to a very bright peachy pink, which she says comes from the shrimp they eat. And their noise. All of which I remember vividly, though I don't remember many other details from the outing. That is why painting on the spot is good practice! You become intimate with your surroundings and your subjects in a way the camera never can.

Then came the six hour drive home that turned to eight! Traffic out of the city was bad, not a surprise, but by the time I let Em drive I was spent. I am always made peaceful by the countryside vistas while driving. Again, no camera! And really, how many snapshots of barns and fields can you have? Out came the sketchbook. You have to get creative to paint moving flamingo's and a vanishing landscape! Again, I picked and chose things I saw as we went and invented a country landscape! I felt less tense when I was done.

Translation? Find a way to do what you love. Really experience the moment in "real time". Think of a way to record it. Write, paint, or scrapbook your experience. It only takes a few minutes, but your memories will be permanent. And if your like me, you could use the help in that department!

Let me know what you are doing to nourish your creative self. Am I just rambling or are you feeling the same? I hope you have a great week!


1 comment:

  1. My God, Michelle, you are a natural at this blogging stuff. I'm glad it wasn't your car battery that died in Chicago traffic! Btw, my Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are still begging for someone to paint them -- preferably in water color.