In my last post, I wrote about going to Big Sur and how excited I was to participate in a painting workshop because I’d always wanted to learn how to paint. It turned out not to be a workshop that taught the skill of painting, but it did teach me a valuable lesson in finding a way to express myself in a creative way, which was cool. It was also a very meditative experience, which I hadn’t expected.
When I came home from that weeklong retreat, I was excited to continue painting. I still don’t have any technical skill under my belt but that’s okay. I’m just doing this for me and I’m enjoying the excitement of figuring it out as I go. That may come to shoot me in the foot at some point in the future, but we’ll see. When I was 7, I started teaching myself how to play songs on the piano just by hearing them either on the radio or when my mom would play them on the piano herself. Of course, when I started to get better at it my mom wanted me to take lessons so I would learn the proper way to play. I was 11 when I started those lessons and boy, was it tough. I’d been placing my fingers incorrectly on the keys for years and had gotten so used to it that learning the right way to play felt completely wrong. Frustrated, I only took those lessons for a year and just went back to teaching myself songs I’d hear on the radio before eventually just giving up on it altogether.
I do think there’s something to learning a skill in a way that suits the person learning it though. I don’t plan to make a career of painting, I just want to do it for fun so why not just get some supplies and get started?! I love landscapes and that’s what has fueled this desire to learn to paint in the first place. I see something so pretty that a photo just isn’t enough to capture it but painting it makes me feel like, I don’t know, like I’m taking it in even more I suppose. I took some photos when I was in Big Sur and then two weeks later, I was in Sedona with my son where I took tons of incredible desert landscape pictures. I’ve looked at sunsets, flowers, trees, water, and mountains as a thing I’ve wanted to learn how to paint for a long time now, so I’m excited to get going on it. I know it isn’t going to be easy, but one thing I do know is patience and the experience of creating something is what I’ve been looking forward to the most.
Last week, Wil and I went to a screening of a show in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I’d never been there before and thought it was really weird to screen something in a cemetery, but once we were there I understood why they did that (kind of creepy surroundings, and a wall to project onto with a large lawn to sit on in front of it for viewing). This cemetery is known for famous Old Hollywood celebrities being buried there, and the grave markers are unique and ornate, to say the least. As we walked out at the end of the night, I looked up and the sky was filled with a marine layer that glowed from the city lights, making it look like a sepia tone photograph. It backlit the aging, gnarled trees around the property, transforming them as if they were characters in a novel. There were palm trees taller than any I’ve ever seen lining the driveway that would lead us out to our parked car. I stopped and looked at the trees and thought “I really want to use watercolor and do a painting of these” so I took some pictures of them as reference for when I had the time to try it.
Yesterday, I went to the art supply store and got myself paints, paper, brushes, and a little desktop easel so I could begin my new painting adventure. I set everything up in Wil’s office where there’s great lighting, but is also a quiet place where Marlowe, our dog who is recovering from knee surgery, can rest uninterrupted. I printed out the first tree photo I had taken so I could look at it as much as I needed to while I did a freehand pencil drawing of it. I worked on that for about an hour and then got out the paints. Excitement took over any kind of fear messing it up and honestly, if I did mess it up, it wouldn’t matter. I’m just doing this for me so however it turns out, it’s just a learning experience for the next one, so that’s okay.
All in all I think this took me close to four hours, which seems crazy to me because A) four hours is a long time and B) it was so relaxing to do this that it didn’t feel like four hours at all. The end result turned out pretty well but more than anything, I’m just proud of myself for following through on seeing a thing and wanting to paint it and then actually doing it. This has already inspired other things in me that I’ve wanted to create that I used to think were either not a good idea or not worth the effort. Now I know the satisfaction of taking something that’s in my head and making it come to life, however it turns out and however long it takes, is completely worth it.