Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Letting Go...

I recently got the opportunity to attend a two-day painting workshop with Jesse Reno at my all-time favorite Virginia retreat... Art & Soul. I absolutely love his primitive style and his methods of painting intrigued me to no end! Painting with your hands, graffiti-style markings, and layers upon layers of acrylics, shapes and symbols was something I wanted to explore for my art.

Jesse himself is his own canvas, covered in marks and images that tell his own story and remind him of what is important in his life. He openly shared many of those stories with us, and showed how sometimes disparate events seem to come full circle. He's come along very far on his own journey of quiet, reserved artist to the extremely deep, acutely aware master he is today. It was an honor being part of this storytelling process.

After creating a few samples of backgrounds for our art, Jesse picked up a couple of the students samples (anonymously) to critique them for the class. Of course he picked mine up first and inside I was secretly blushing with excitement! However, he actually wanted to show the class what not to do! My piece had too many same-sized areas of paint and pattern, and was mostly all mid-tones. A few years ago I would have turned bright red, flushed with embarrassment, and felt like nothing I ever do is right. But this day, I was excited and thought to myself... Oooooh! What can I do to fix this? That's a huge step for me. Making mistakes has been the bane of my existence. Could this be a whole new Michelle?

After spending quite some time reworking our initial efforts, we switched gears and did some drawing exercises on plain white paper. This was so we could get an idea of what we were creating without a busy background to distract us. It's funny, but this is still one of my favorite pieces. I haven't gone any further with it. But I think I like the contrast of the white and how the faces stand out.

The next day it was the big leap. drawing on the backgrounds we created. One of my pieces started out like this, but it changed... alot! Jesse taught us how to step back and look at the things we like and the things we don't like. He showed us how we could change up the boring areas and higlight the interesting areas.

So then turned into this. But by this time I had gotten to the point where I wasn't afraid to change things. (Just take a picture first, and) Move on! I liked my little deer cat thing in the bottom left corner, but he just didn't make sense there. The eye to the right was looking like a fish, so I changed it up again.

...and so my piece finally made it to this after I returned home. I feel like it's okay, but it's not as "me" as it could be. At one point I had walked around the classroom looking at everyone else's art and getting a little jealous. Many were doing Jesse's techniques, but in their own style. So I stepped back and realized that because I'm a "recovering perfectionist", it takes me time to execute new ways of doing things. And that I was mimicking his style so that I could learn what I needed to and then I could apply it to my own style later on.

In fact, this piece I did awhile back — having been inspired by Jesse's paintings — is more me than anything I created in the workshop. But now I have the tools, as well as the perspective, to be able to look at what I don't like... and fix it. And I'll remember the most important advice from his class... sometimes you just need to make a move. It doesn't always matter what you do... just do something and the next step will reveal itself.

I'm thrilled that I got to take this class. It was an amazing experience at just the right time in my life. I'm looking forward to how my art will evolve because of it! Hurrah!

1 comment:

  1. So very awesome !!!! What an experience to have as a recovering perfectionsit and as an artist in general !
    Brava, brava, brava !
    Oh, the places you will go when you practice letting go...Thanks for the inspiration, today, Michelle. Big hugs !


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