September 26, 2019

My Painting Experience: What is The Verdict So Far?

A few months ago, I mentioned that I had begun to paint. More accurately, I had decided to see if I could paint. A chance exposure to a Bob Ross video on Netflix and the search for a new creative outlet led to this decision. I was convinced that my ability to paint something recognizable was about as likely as me qualifying for the U.S. Open. Since I don't play tennis you understand my thought process. No tennis, no tournament. No painting ability, no way.

Even so, the process of buying the paints, bushes, easel, canvas, paint thinner, and palette knives gave me a burst of energy, not always the easiest task in the midst of an endless Phoenix summer.

Finding 29 seasons of Bob Ross and his "wet-on-wet" painting technique on YouTube meant I was as close to paint-by-numbers as I could be and still claim some creative output.

Finding a place to actually put oil paint on canvas was a bit of a challenge. I ended up appropriating the dinette area of our kitchen whenever the brushes called me. As long as I didn't monopolize the space over a meal time, things were good.

Drop clothes cover the table and floor, an old blanket the chair. Then, out comes all the stuff needed. In thinking about it, maybe that has been my favorite part: arranging all the brushes, having a container to hold the paint thinner, pulling out little tubes of stuff named Sap Green or Prussian Blue, or Alizarine Crimson, squeezing small amounts on a plastic palette...fun! Almost like finger-painting, considering what my hands look like when I am done.

The cleanup is just everything in reverse, except messier, and takes just as long. In fact, come to think of it, the actual time spent painting is about 30 minutes; the setup and cleaning afterward about an hour.

At the risk of my tearing the scab off a wound that remains painful, here is the first painting on my first day of Bob Ross-lead inspiration. The sky has some ominous streaks, the water appears to be a solid, and the trees are in the throes of some sort of bark beetle infestation.

                                  

So, roughly 60 days later, what has happened? Have I noticed any improvement? Has my artistic wife stopped leaving the house to shop, or meet a friend, or whatever, when I pull out my box of supplies?

I suppose most importantly, I am enjoying whatever we want to call what I am doing. Painting is probably a stretch, but I do like the time spent in front of a canvas. 

So, take a look at something from maybe 10 days ago. Yes, the sky is an other-worldly green. Betty says too much sap green that hasn't been mixed with something else. My light source near the center is coming from a very distant, or dying sun. But, and this is a big but, I now recognize actual tree shapes with trunks, some branches, and little smudges that somewhat resemble leaves.



I show you this out of a sincere desire to encourage you to try something new. Even if the results are as lame as these, I am surviving the embarrassment and some level of frustration of not being able to reproduce what is on the videos. Betty reminds me Mr. Ross had decades of experience to produce something in the 28 minutes of his weekly show. That may be, but, come on. Green sky?

I am writing this on a Saturday morning. The weather forecast promises I can move to the back porch on Monday to tackle my next foray into Van Gogh territory. Maybe all that fresh air and natural light will work wonders.

Probably not, but a guy has to dream.



29 comments:

  1. Bob, that's quite a difference between your two paintings, and I have no doubt that the artistic Betty has pointed that out to you. Thank you for setting such a positive example for your readers by risking your embarrassment to share your experience with all of us.

    Speaking of experience, isn't the experience and enjoyment of painting just as important (or even more so!) than the end result itself? You don't go hiking with the goal of returning home as soon as possible; you hike to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. You don't read a book simply to arrive at the last page; you read because you enjoy a good mystery or want to learn more about a specific topic. It's obvious that you enjoy the process of painting, which is evidenced by the way you talk about the descriptive paint colors and your system for setting up. Anyone who can take great pleasure in a hobby or activity without having to be the best at it is truly blessed. I say, "Good for you!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right...while I expect progress in my skills, I am enjoying the whole experience so far. Watching something emerge from the canvas is a bit magical...even if the sky is green!

      Delete
  2. Definite improvement! Good for you...and of course, it's about the journey as much as the destination, as Mary noted above. I applaud your ongoing efforts as I try (and try, and try) to learn harmonics and broken chords on the harp. Practice is the only answer. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Practice and patience, plus maybe perseverance are the keys to almost anything.

      Delete
  3. Happy little trees!! I love your paintings,Bob! The progress from day 1 to now is stunning ! If you're loving it, keep at it! I am playing at watercolors and sketching, and let's say I have more heart than talent but I am loving it..soo relaxing and creative and energizing all at once! When I go to art studio on Thursdays and see what others are doing, I have to try not to compare my amateur efforts. I love painting! Maybe I will also improve over time, but even if not, it's a soul journey. something I enjoy immensely..and it sounds like, you ,too, have found a new way to express your creativity! I hope you'll show us more as you go along!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and my "almighty" palette knife, as Bob Ross is found of saying. I have a goal of painting 3 times a week. Sometimes it is to practice something that I have already attempted, other times I will take a new lesson of Bob's and try something entirely different.

      The nice thing about his wet-on-wet technique is I can scrape much of the paint off a canvas, let things dry for a few days, recover it in white base, and try something else.

      You are so right about the relaxing quality of doing something like this. Just squeezing dabs of paint on the palette, mixing two colors together, and putting that on the canvas makes time almost stand still. I am focused on that moment, not thinking about something else.

      Delete
  4. The important part, Bob, is that you enjoyed the process. Losing yourself in front of a canvas is what the Ross method is all about---well, in my opinion. The green sky? Hey, with climate change maybe you're painting is futuristic. But seriously, you've painted a mood and there is nothing wrong with doing so. Much improvement between the first and second canvas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have learned that yellow and blue (light source and sky) will mix into green. The next sky I tried was actually blue because I was able to avoid the blending that produced that alien-looking sky.

      Delete
  5. Bob, the improvement is marked. I can only reiterate the comments above. It's as much or more about the journey, not the destination. Just try something; just do it! like the old Nike advertisements. Last week, I made beet rolls (like cabbage rolls but using beet leaves vs cabbage). They weren't pretty but I know they will be tasty. Now if I would only tackle the home made bread that I've been threatening to do for 6 yrs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can do it, Mona. Nothing smells better than a loaf of homemade bread fresh out of the oven.

      Delete
  6. I firmly believe that if yyou are having fun doing it, the improvement is secondary . Not that I dont think we shouldn't try to better ourselves but there is vue in the doing and the experience. But yes, I think you are coming along and there is much difference in the canvases. As someone who lives with an artist and tries to paint in verious media, it can be challenging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Barb. What this experience is helping to teach me is being more in the moment. As I noted in a comment above, I am not thinking of anything else during a session with the paints. It is one of the few times in a day when my mind isn't racing forward or backward about something(s).

      Delete
  7. I can't see colors well but when I first saw it I though, WOW! I hunt at night and use a bright light. Your painting looks a lot like what I see when I shine my light into the trees at night. I like it. The green sky, what's the problem? I see a full moon shining through the clouds or fog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it is a light source so a moon shining through the fog works for me!

      Thanks, Frank.

      Delete
  8. You are definitely improving so, if you are enjoying yourself, keep at it! The great thing about art lessons is that not only do you get better technically, but you learn to be a better observer, which is a skill that spills over in many areas of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. My wife told me to spend some time just observing clouds before I try to paint some. It is amazing all the color and shading in something we usually just take for granted.

      Delete
    2. Bob, please thank Betty for me! I am not into painting, but I am an outdoor enthusiast who is acutely aware of the beauty that surrounds us. Her excellent tip will allow me to view and appreciate the components of nature from a different perspective.

      Delete
    3. I have restarted an interest in photography, initially centered on nature in all its beauty. I hadn't thought of the connection before, but those photos could be used as models for future paintings. Again, it is focusing on something we see and take for granted every day.

      Delete
  9. I LOVE that green painting! Amazing how you used shades of basically the same color to create a rich painting of sky and trees. And by the way, about that green sky -- my sister is a very talented artist and one of the things I've noticed is that she often paints the sky an unexpected color. So there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I will take that as a vote of confidence and an OK for artistic license. I tackle a new lesson tomorrow. I wonder what will happen!

      Delete
  10. I agree with Frank. You painted what we see through our night vision goggles! The key is enjoyment. It seems like you are doing just that.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love the sky in the green picture, conjures up feeling of aliens about to land.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I painted today. The sky is actually blue, with white clouds...a pleasant development.

      Delete
  12. You've got a lot of courage both to try something new in the first place, and then to show off your first halting efforts. Anyway, if they give an award for "Most Improved" you should get it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tom. So far, the improvement bar is pretty low.

      Delete
  13. Creating something, for me, always brings great joy, and I am glad that you are finding joy in your painting experience. When I am at my easel, my mind goes to a different place - I am completely immersed in the process. Painting helps me to be a better observer at the world around me, much like what you said about noticing the complexity of clouds. When I walk on the trails, I am always looking at the shapes and colours of the trees, sky, leaves, pond, etc., and thinking about how I would capture those colours with my paints, or what is visually interesting about the tree bark, and so on. Thanks for sharing your experience with painting.

    Jude

    ReplyDelete
  14. Bob,
    Wow. Great to see. Looks like progress to me.
    An excellent example for all of us to keep trying new things.
    Looking forward to seeing future output. Appreciate your points on enjoying the process.
    Best,
    Joe Casey

    ReplyDelete
  15. I see definite improvement!! I agree that much of the pleasure of a hobby is in the accumulation and organization of the supplies!! I am a great one at collecting what I will need and get so excited when I find a new tool that improves the quality of my project. Keep it up! You’re doing great.

    ReplyDelete
  16. For the last two weeks I have avoided the dreaded green sky look.

    ReplyDelete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted