Monday, July 16, 2007

Three Hundred Sixty Degrees

I had to chuckle this week when reading about Robert Genn's idea of selecting a comfortable spot for painting and then selecting a subject. It seems like such an easy way to find the spirit of the place. It also seems that it must be a difficult thing to learn to do -- on location, the scenery just seduces the brain which forgets that the body has to be in that position for a good long session!

I had a group of students who had no problem with this concept. They were painting winter scenes through the windows of the studio. They came in, got settled in their usual spots and prepared their paper, paint and water and then proceeded to go to the window to select their subjects. They would then return to the painting spot and paint a little while before going to the window again. They skewed their perspective, missed shadow shapes and wondered what was wrong. BUT . . . they were comfortable!

So I developed a workshop which would address this problem whether indoors or out. I call it 360 Degrees -- a New Point of View. At each workshop location, I select (and number) spots for painting. Each student draws a number and locates his or her spot with instructions to settle in for a while and find and sketch as many potential paintings as possible from their comfortable spot. Rarely is one bored or stymied by the possibilities within the 360 degree space as closeups, mid-distance and landscapes are examined. Few want to exchange places when we begin after our break and the real painting begins.

Robert says it better than I can: "Why the comfort first? It's partly to do with the nature of the creative act. The subject itself is not as important as what can be done with it. And being comfortable has something to do with what can be done. You feel the potential of a place when you show up. It's intuitive, and it's also about remembered joys. "Something tells me I can get my brush around this," you find yourself saying. Get comfy, set up, squeeze out. Motifs appear like genies. Again he quotes McDonald, "Art is the ordering of the material in harmony with the spirit." Contemplation is needed. The results are often simple, direct, strong and expressive. You can sometimes do this sort of thing if you find a good place to sit."

I think you also need to learn to ignore the obvious in your three hundred and sixty degrees.

Today's photos were taken by Lucy and me. We love looking at the night sky in all directions. The first star while the moon is hiding, people in the late night light and finally, the moon comes out of hiding.

PS: You might enjoy seeing Robert in action at this link. Be sure to click at the top to go forward to Creative Archeology and more on selecting your spot. You might even enjoy getting the newsletter twice a week for yourself -- sign up! thousands of us have.

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