Learning a New Thing...step one
It's a fact that high anxiety produces stress reactions that shut down the mind's best response to learning new skills, so developing a mental environment of receptivity seems like a good early goal. What does that look like? As I observe others (and myself) in new situations, like a new job for instance, the first few encounters tend to be slow and unfamiliar, bordering on incompetent, possibly embarrassment. We don't like that! It upsets our self-image and causes stressful biochemical reactions. I have found it helpful to learn to pay attention to what my body is telling me, noticing and naming the physical responses like shaky hands, dry mouth, pounding heart. I've noticed that a few minutes of high anxiety makes me feel very sleepy and distracted. Also hungry! But I am not a child, right? So what to do? I've learned more and more to assesses and accept by first: taking a few deep breaths, gradually slowing my breathing rate; next, intentionally relaxing from shoulders on down, maybe rolling my neck a bit to release retained tension. Even doing just these two simple steps is often enough to calm the "fight or flight" mini crisis the brain goes into. Voila! Frontal lobe, with all its sensible, problem solving, language absorbing abilities, is back in the saddle. Welcome the Beginners Mind (and get used to it) because there will be many stages of learning in your chosen discipline that require humility and openness!
How Do You Know...
...When It Is Finished?
This is probably the most common question artists get from both learners and viewers...and a question that is always in the back of the artist's mind as well. I have six paintings in the works as I write this, almost all are in the final stages, and I am asking myself with each one: are you finished? what else do you need? will other people see you the way I see you?
I find myself more and more painting until I get that sweet feeling of "enough". While most artists want to paint with expertise and mastery, that is rarely the "Why" or reason that they are painting that particular subject. I'm learning to ask myself why I want to paint a scene or thing; what is it that catches my eye and heart? and what I am trying to communicate through painting it?
I'm a sucker for delightful, serene, charmingly simple settings, as you may have noticed. Life can be hard, heavy, heart-weary and these moments I paint remind me (and, I hope, you) it is also wonderful, beautiful, magical and filled with goodness.
I am much happier with the studio works, but it was the plein air studies that helped me retain the immediacy of the scenes. I also became more aware of my tendency to interpret shadows much darker and higher in chroma than I personally prefer.
What do you think? Your comments are always so interesting to me and I appreciate the time you take to make them. Thanks you, as always, for reading my blog!!
Hello! My name is Wendy and I am passionate about oil painting! Whether in the studio or out in Mother Nature, I get lost in the experience of capturing on canvas the moment and the feel of what I am painting. I pour my love and energy into every single piece of artwork and I hope it shows! This blog is a place where I can use words to talk about art, painting, life, faith, things that make me laugh, and things that inspire. I love every response, so don't be shy about leaving a comment...