Change is Good For the Soul

Change is good for the soul.  And the soda machine.

I resist change with every fiber of my being. If it ain’t broke, why fix it. If it is broke, ignore it until it goes away. (or gets so huge you can’t ignore it, then give it away and let someone else deal with it.)

It’s not a perfect system, but it works. (Mostly). When I find something I like, I stick with it. Hair? If it worked for me in the ’70’s, it’ll work for me now. Clothes? Hey, if I’m not naked, it’s all good. (My beautiful, patient daughter took me clothes shopping once, (a bottle of wine and some Xanax made the trip quite enjoyable.) This leopard can change her shorts.

I learned how to paint with Windsor & Newton Artist Oil Paints.  It’s what my instructor uses and his art is amazing. I love these paints and their bright, rich colors, their ease of use, and their ease of un-use. (Which is good because I make a lot of mistakes, or happy accidents, according to Bob Ross). I love everything about them.  Well, sort of.

I’m not so crazy about the smell of mineral spirits.  Even odorless mineral spirits are kind of odorly.  I paint outdoors for nine months of the year (God bless the South) so for the most part, it is not a problem.  But ’tis the season, and it’s just too cold to paint on the porch. Something has to change.

After painting indoors for a week, I started to notice a very painterly smell when I came home every day.  I started to hold my breath every time my husband would light a cigarette.  (He smokes indoors when I’m not home, he thinks I don’t notice).  It was definitely time for a *gasp* change.

I Welcome Change, As Long as Nothing is Altered or Different

On one of my trips to Shangri-la (aka Jerry’s Artarama), it came to my attention that Winsor Newton carries a line of water-mixable oil paints.  It’s like magic because everyone knows water and oil don’t mix. This could be the change I was looking for. So with much trepidation, I purchased all of my base colors.  The Hope Diamond received less scrutiny than these tiny tubes of transition.

With great ceremony, I assembled my work area.  I set aside my oily oils and mineral spirit container and poured a glass of water.  (Then maybe a glass of wine, no sense getting rid of all the spirits) Then I put some in my brush washer.  There’s something wonderful about opening a fresh tube of paint.  It’s so clean and fresh and full of possibilities.

I proceeded to apply it to my palette. It looks like oil paint, it paints like oil paint, it covers my clothes and hands like oil paint.  But unlike oil paint, it washes right off.  It cleans up like acrylic but has the richness of oils.  My house smells like…well let’s not get into that, (anyone who owns a dog will understand) let’s just say it doesn’t smell like mineral spirits.  Huh. Go figure.  I guess if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be oil paint.

Well, I guess change isn’t so bad after all.  No, wait, that’s a lie.  Change is terrifying and uncomfortable. Change is the hardest thing to accept as a human being.  But sometimes it’s worth it.

A little change never hurts, right?

Acrylic painting
Bubba in the Blueberries Using WN Water Mixable Oil Paints

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Find Joy in the Skills You Have

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I find hilarity and humor in almost every situation. In fact you could say Joy is my middle name. Well, actually, it is my middle name. I am a child of the 60’s.

While I am a certified worry wart, it takes a lot to get me down. I live on the edge of one of the most visited and beautiful national parks in the country. Often I will just stand in my yard and gaze at the mountains in wonder. People spend millions of dollars to do what I can do for free.

At night the stars are bright and clear and the Milky Way looks like a footpath connecting the mountain tops. There’s something about staring at a sparkling, midnight blue sky that makes all your worries seem so trivial.

I have come to realize during my journey of discovery of oil painting that no matter who I try to emulate, my own spirit/soul/personality comes through.

I want so desperately to paint like my mentor/teacher Jeremy Doss, with his warm, peaceful, beautiful paintings. But even though I can sit behind him and paint the exact same thing with the exact same palette,

(french ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, viridian, sap green, transparent oxide red, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre pale, cadmium red deep, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow pale, lemon yellow and white, in that order always around our palettes), mine always come out bolder, brighter, more fantasy than reality.

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The harder I tried to paint like him, the more discouraged I became. Then came the day that turned painting from a chore to a joy.

My class and Jeremy were plein air (fancy for outdoors) painting at the Visitor Center here in Townsend. It was a warm Spring day and the mountains were budding with new life.

A woman I admire very much walked up behind me. She looked at my painting, then Jeremy’s. She hugged me and whispered in my ear, “I love Jeremy with all my heart, but I like your painting better, it’s bright and bold just like you.” That was my Aha! Moment.

The reason I can’t paint soft, peaceful, calming paintings like Jeremy is because I am not a soft, peaceful, calming person like he is. I’m bright, bold and in your face. Just like my paintings.

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That was the day I decided to embrace the painter I was and not try to force myself to be what I’m not.  I removed the yellow ochre and replaced it with turquoise blue and permanent rose. I don’t necessarily paint what I see but what I feel or what I think it should look like. And that’s okay because that’s who I am.

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And I found my joy. Because as you know, Joy is my middle name.

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Procrastination isn’t a Fear of Failure, but Fear of Success.

Procrastination is a big part of Crafting
Kitty Purry lends a paw

If procrastination was an Olympic sport I would get the gold every four years and every year in between.  Say, for example, I have two months to finish something, I always wait until the day before to start. Granted, it does get finished (most of the time) and the huge rush of relief and satisfaction when I’ve accomplished it is overwhelming and gratifying.  If I didn’t know better I would swear there’s a part of my brain that enjoys the rush.

It’s Never Too Late to Start

I have recently come into the world of oil painting.  After a life long desire, I started lessons for my 48th birthday with the amazing artist, Jeremy Doss. Jeremy Doss Art His words were, and I quote, “If I can teach a pigeon-toed man to dance, I can teach you to paint.” And he did.  To which I will be eternally grateful.  I’m telling you right now if you ever have an opportunity to attend one of his workshops run, don’t walk to the nearest one.
What does this have to do with procrastination, you say? Well, I love oil painting. It satisfies something in me that photography never quite accomplished.

I belong to a great Plein Aire group of men and women called the Tuesday Painters, because we, well, paint every Tuesday.  When you live in East Tennessee you will run of days before you run out of places to paint.  But when I sit down in front of that giant, mind-searingly white sheet of canvas, my brain shuts down like a frightened turtle.

I can suddenly think of a thousand things that need to be done instead. Must have more reference photos, must organize my space, must find a snack, bathroom or anything else to postpone the inevitable.  When I finally get down to the business of painting, some of the others are starting their second. Yes, Kathie Odom, I’m talking about you. (side note: If you could design a beautiful, amazingly talented, wonderfully spiritual human being, her name would be Kathie Odom.)

I do eventually start painting and have a fantastic time but the ritual never changes.

Art Cards Originals and Editions

Enter ACEOs, an artist’s version of trading cards. It combines the fun of trading Baseball Cards with the artwork of Magic Cards. These tiny (2 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch) bite-size morsels of painty goodness bring me joy and happiness.  I think of a topic, and boom I can pop out 3 in an afternoon. The process of painting is exactly the same, just in miniature.  All of the paint and paraphernalia are confined to a 4-foot square tabletop on a sunny porch. Instead of gargantuan sheets of canvas taunting me with their whiteness and blankness, rectangles the size of playing cards greet me.  Did I mention how much fun they are to paint? In other words, I don’t hem and haw. Suddenly the refrigerator doesn’t need cleaning. I just sit down and paint. Then I paint some more.

I think I will start some now, as a matter of fact.   Or maybe this afternoon. Definitely before bedtime.

Don't let Procrastination slow you down.
Monet’s Lily Pond, Giverny

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