Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Make your own paint?

As if we didn't already have enough on our "to do" list, now we can make our own paint.
(There's also a website that shows you how to make your own chocolate, but we won't go there)
For artists who want to know more about how their materials are made and where they come from, paintmaking.com is a valuable resource. It tells you the pros & cons (“There are lots of reasons to make paint, and plenty of reasons not to.”) It might be helpful to understand more about your materials; maybe it will lead to new ease and confidence in your work or even to renewed inspiration. Maybe there are certain colors you want that can be mixed in volume from your own recipes. You can save money, especially if you're using the less expensive pigments. Of course, this all takes time to learn as well as to make, and maybe you would rather just do the painting. And it can be a boring job (lots of mixing).

There is a long list of FAQs and web resources, along with information about all different media – acrylics, tempera, watercolor & gouache, oils & alkyds, encaustic & fresco as well as chalks. There are tools, supplies, ingredients and binders. There is even a “History” page, starting with prehistory and going through Egypt, Greece and on up to the 20th century. And there is information about safety as well.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mindfulness

I think of painting as (among other things) a way to practice mindfulness.

“Mindfulness” is a misleading word in a way, because it doesn’t really refer to your mind. “Mind” can be a verb, as in “Mind your manners,” “Mind the step,” or “Never mind.” It means to pay attention. Not by using your mind, the analytical & critical function of the brain, and not by using the “autopilot” mind that gets us through routine tasks, or by using the fear-based, reactive mechanism that’s a deep part of our survival mode. Pure attention is a very different animal. It lets us see things that our “autopilot” mind usually deletes, and it re-evaluates things that our critical mind usually dismisses or denigrates.

It’s an important function, because our attention is the creative part of our self. It’s the “lead dog” that takes us, our sled and everything we've packed on it along wherever it goes.

Painting or sketching from life puts you in conscious communication with this lead dog, and it helps you decide what you’ll pay attention to. It can overcome our natural “confirmation bias” that lets us see only what we expect to see. Painting or sketching outdoors allows you comprehend a vaster scale of things than you usually think of in everyday life. Or maybe you notice that small things can be significant, even if most people never notice them. It can bring to the fore concepts, connections and connotations that often get trodden underfoot. This can affect your whole life in a major way.

It’s valuable for you and this lead dog to get in touch, to get in the habit of spending time quietly paying attention, sniffing the breeze, noticing relationship & proportion, looking and listening.

Monday, March 05, 2007

David Hockney Plein-Air

This is a page about a current exhibit of David Hockney's East Yorkshire landscapes at the L.A. Louver Gallery in Venice, California. There's a photo of him doing plein-air painting on SIX large canvases at once (to form a single painting). Now, that's encouraging. If he can paint six large canvases on location (at one time), how hard can it be to do one small one?

It's interesting that he doesn't use photography at all, even as a partial reference. He says the camera sees geometrically, but human beings see psychologically, which includes all of our perceptions, memories and feelings.