“Every artist was first an amateur.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hot Shops Art Center is home to more than 80 local professional artists and multiple gallery spaces. Although I haven’t yet attended one, I’ve heard the bi-annual Open Houses are amazing and grow in popularity each year. A visit to the Hot Shops is definitely now on my artist’s date list!
As an amateur artist, never in a million years did I think that I’d have the opportunity to create art in such an inspiring place, but the weekend of October 13th a dream I didn’t even know I had, came true.
The night before, with no small amount of nervousness about the workshop and jumping into unknown territory, I loaded up my car with a laundry basket full of supplies, along with a half dozen big scary canvases.
The name of the workshop was “Big Juicy Abstracts,” taught by Beverly Todd, a local professional artist, and beautiful human being.
The list of materials, which included canvases, specifically called out the requested size of canvas. 38″ x 38,” as a starting point – in case you’re wondering, that’s equivalent to the height of a taller than average three year old.
The majority of my artwork has been completed on canvases and pieces of drawing paper between the sizes of 5″ x 7″ and 10″ x 20″, with two exceptions.
The first and most significant was the three little birds painting I created a few years ago at a friend’s request.
Over the past two years, I’ve dabbled in acrylic through multiple visits to local paint and sip venues
and through spending countless hours on YouTube channeling the techniques of other artists to create something uniquely mine.
I’ve learned a lot, have had tremendous fun experimenting, but something has been missing – the opportunity for a more structured, hand’s on learning environment.
I didn’t realize how hungry I was for such an opportunity until I saw the promotional post for the workshop in my Facebook feed. Although I normally dislike the promo zone on Facebook, in this instance I was grateful for it.
The weather was gray and gloomy, but my spirits were high as I unloaded my car and traversed to the open studio space. I was the last to arrive, which surprisingly meant that I ended up with the best spot in the room, the one with the most natural light.
I set up my station as quickly as possible and settled in to learn and explore.
Abstract art is an interesting concept, so often we judge “good art” based upon how accurately it represents our physical world. In other words, how well the artist recreated a landscape or the impression of a person or an object through paint, ink or pencil.
Abstract art, is often criticized and misunderstood. I have to confess that prior to learning a bit more about the art of being abstract, I too have thought, “Why is this piece of art great? A five year old could have done this.”
What I know now, is that part of makes abstract art great – is exactly that. It’s created from the heart and soul, from a place of feeling. A place that’s sometimes happy and sometimes sad – a place that’s completely human. That’s how children create, from the heart and without overthinking it.
Over the course of the two day workshop, I also learned that while abstract pieces may appear to be randomly assembled to the untrained eye – there are very purposeful intentions behind the patterns that have emerged on the canvas.
We took time to “loosen up” and try some creative techniques on for size, things like making marks on a canvas with charcoal before painting.
Seemingly insignificant actions, with unexpected outcomes.
By putting myself into a playful state of mind, and by following the intuitive input of the teacher – I quit procrastinating and painted.
I’m not going to lie – it was a struggle to get to this point. The concept of painting on a such a large canvas was intimidating, and watching the seasoned artists around me fill their canvases with paint made me pause and wonder whether or not I was in the right place.
In many preceding drawing and painting classes, I’d never completed the work during the allotted class time. Frozen by my comparing mind, I’ve almost always allowed perfectionism to trump playfulness.
What I came to understand later in the day, as we shared our art – and what we learned, is that I’m far from alone. Even the most experienced artists in the group felt like they’d stepped way outside of their comfort zone and were unsure, but happy with where they had landed.
As it turns out, we’re not really alone. We just need to be brave enough to try.
In an unprecedented weekend, I completed not just one – but three pieces of art. I do believe it’s the first time, outside of a paint and sip experience, that I’ve actually completed a piece within the time-frame allotted.
This piece was particularly daunting, the size of the canvas was beyond my imagination, or so I thought.
It was a fabulous high energy weekend! I somehow think it’s a glimpse into the future.