Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Legend in My Own Mind

Calamity Jane was quoted as saying, "I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one".  

I've always loved that quote.  I mean, really, why not?  It's like the popular tag line, "Just Do It".  

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest.  A. Lot. Of. Time.  I've been pinning home decorating ideas to my At Home boards, funky miscellaneous photos to my Love This board, beautiful fiber arts to my Stitchy Goodness board...and a lot of inspiration to my Art I Love, Journal Inspiration, and Color Me Happy boards.  As I'm pinning the last categories especially, I often find myself whining, "waahhhh, I want to paint like that!"  

I've painted before, but it has always felt a bit uncomfortable to me.  Like work.  Like I'm out of my element.  Definitely out of my quilty, stitchy comfort zone.

Still, I can't put this feeling away that I want to paint pretty pictures.  But I'll tell you what: it has scared me to death.  The starting.  And yet, I keep pinning work by the masters, like Matisse and Picasso, and more contemporary artists like Kathe Fraga and Karen Fields, and my friends Syd McCutcheon and Pam Garrison.  

Then I found this book: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.  Brilliant book.  Read it, you must.

And I created a safe place to paint - an art journal.  Friends, it has given me so much FREEDOM!!

Try this on for size:  Austin Kleon writes, "What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere.  All creative work builds on what came before.  Nothing is completely original."

I've often thought that.  Maybe not to that detail or in exactly those words.  But when you look at artistic movements like The Renaissance, or The Impressionists, or Outsider Art, you realize those artists' works are very similar.  And yet each artist has retained his or her own sense of individuality.  How exactly?

Well, let me throw this out to you.  I decided to experiment.  To play around.  I pulled images of paintings of those I admire and had them handy for reference.  And I got out my art journal.  In the past, I've painted straight onto the canvas.  What I've learned is that for me, if I'm going to paint directly onto canvas, the shit better be good!  So, I wanted to remove the pressure of that ridiculously high and stressful expectation, throw it out the window as a matter of fact, by creating a painting journal, just for play.  Then I got out the paints and the brushes, and got after it.  And guess what happened?  I painted !  I started, not with a master or peer artist actually, but with the coaster that my water bottle sits on.  That was my starting point.  Gradually, I looked at other paintings and continued my work play.  What I noticed was that I was painting.  I was making something out of something else, and it was evolving into its own something.  (Wow.  I know...deep.)  But truly, it was really quite a thrill!  To have let go of all that fear and expectation, and just give myself permission to copy something and play around with it...well, it was, in a word, AWESOME!  I can hardly wait to start my next journal page. 

I figure if a girl wants to be a painter, she should go ahead and be one.  You can quote me on that.


Anne D said...

I like this idea!

Dori said...

Oh, I LOVE this! Last summer I decided I would be a painter. lol! I bought a little set of water color pencils and a little spiral bound book of watercolor paper and began. My first work of art, an apple. It even looks like an apple! Lesley said, "It's a lovely apple." Oh, joy! My third piece, a cup of tea, is in my blog banner and gives me no end of delight when I see it! I am having so much fun! You go, Tammy!

Sheila Earhart said...

Bravo!! Good for you!

Lynne said...

what excellent advice! I do use a creative journal - though I'm not consistent in working at it - and it does present that safe environment in which I can just DO stuff without feel of judgement. (Not that anyone but me was judging!)

I draw, paint, pentangle, write poems, collage .... and try out idea in the flat that I might later stitch.

I might add, Tammy, that some folk are natural artists, and some of us are not - I put you in the the forst category and myself firmly in the second!

Nikki said...

As someone who has one of your paintings hanging on my living room wall, I'd say you are definitely a painter! This new work in your journal is really lovely and inspiring!