Over the past 10 weeks I’ve taken part in an inspiring on-line painting course: Find Your Joy with Louise Fletcher. After taking a short taster course in August I was really intrigued and motivated to do more! This isn’t your usual painting course!!
The focus is on getting to understand yourself and what you like to do. Its about starting to find your own unique voice in painting. Although it might sound a little ‘out there’ , it really isn’t! It is a pragmatic, inspiring and fun experience with an exceptional tutor! The course is a mix of painting assignments, videos, live discussions and Journal work. There are probably lots of reasons why an amazing mix of experienced and novice painters (over 300 of us) take part.
These were my 3 key intentions going into the 10 weeks:
- Try to let go of my rush rush rush, almost formulaic approach to life/art . To really let go of the need for results: to give myself time and space without forcing it.
- Give myself permission to experiment, play and delve deeper with my painting, without judgment. To start to develop a framework for doing that, both on the course and afterwards.
- Tap into my inner voice and to go with my intuition and what feels right. Taking away the need to rationalise and push for a pre-determined outcome in my painting.
I actually got a lot more than this!
Find your joy: Getting yourself-an intuitive response
As the title of the course implies, much of the 10 weeks focuses upon responding intuitively (to music, emotions etc). Its about exploring what we like in terms of mark making. In addition, we are encouraged to analyse our work and that of our favourite artists’ to identify what we like and why.
We develop pieces that incorporate our preferred approaches. There is an emphasis on doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Through the journaling we were encouraged to explore and document these loves. And to think about what we want from our art. These are big subjects but by starting to unpick things, we are able to set off on an ongoing exploratory journey. This can then be channeled meaningfully, into our work. Of course the assignments on the course are start points for subsequent ongoing exploration-this is one of the strengths of the course. There is no painting by numbers here! The visuals are examples of the exercises I produced; note there wasn’t an intention of producing finished artwork.
Find your joy: Getting intentional: The need for focus
As essential as the intuitive exploration is, we do also often start with an intention, to enable us to produce work exploring a theme or idea. On the course, we produced some pieces based on specific descriptive words. The ones I chose were: stone, rain and forest. Of course there are so many intentions but focusing on these simple words enabled an experimental and fun approach as well as exploring the intention and what it means to the way you paint. In my case, drawing on location is a key aspect of the way I work, so starting with an intention is likely to be my way forward. You can read about my drawing on location here with an example of me drawing the Pembrokeshire coastal path.
Find your joy: Getting technical: contrasts
Right at the end of the 10 weeks we did explore a very useful framework for some of the technical aspects of painting. This wasn’t the focus of this course . We will explore these elements in depth in the follow-on 6 week course: Find Your Voice. We explored the 4 key contrasts: composition; tone; colour and mark making in a simple exercise focusing on each of the contrasts in turn. This is one to go back to time and time again.
Finally, we pulled all 3 elements together to start to work in series. Here we focus on experimentation and fun but with intention and thinking about some of the technical aspects too. That said, the focus here still wasn’t to think too much about finished pieces but about process. I created a set of 8.
My intention was to start to explore the idea of edges (of shapes and lines) and layers in the landscape, such that when you look at a view, you get a sense of great depth and distance. I created a series of drawings out in the landscape as the basis for this work. The start point of my studies shown here was some abstract collage elements created through mark making. Going into the course, I knew that collage would be a key focus of my work, but the approaches on the course here have enabled me to explore and use collage in a much less literal and more intuitive way. Of course these are initial works, much more delving will be necessary to produce a series that are addressing the intention effectively.
Find your Joy: Some important take away messages:
Through the combination of painting, journaling, reviewing and discussing, I felt the course really challenged and changed my way of thinking and my approaches to my mixed media art. The key things I learned on the programme are:
- Joy in painting is a state of mind, not a moment in time, not a specific feeling when things are going well. Joy is about exploring and finding out and understanding about ourselves within the painting environment.
- Focusing upon end results too soon (or goals in any way) rather than an intention destroys my ability to produce a meaningful and powerful outcome.
- Do what you like to do; then more of what you like and less of what you don’t (simples!!). Do it a lot, when you’ve done a lot, do more lots!!
- This is never going to be an easy journey, but it will be an exciting and fulfilling one. Keep experimenting, keep shaking things up and keep showing up!
Find your Joy: What I’ve learned about myself:
- In art, as in life, I like an eclectic mix of elements/techniques/marks and styles: Chameleon like.
- My previous experiences fundamentally influence my mixed media artwork (landscape design, illustration, science etc.). I have labeled this: ‘All that you can’t leave behind’.
- I need to keep exploring my ideas in written form as well as visual form, through journaling. It will be a key part of my art development moving forward.
- My most joyful and meaningful work happens when I play and experiment. It happens by accident, as a by-product (when I get my brain to shut up)!
- I’m interested in painting the impact and aspects of what I experience rather than literal scenes. A great quote to sum this up is: “to paint not the thing, but the effect it produces” Mallarme.
Finally, a big thank you to Louise for such a thought provoking and inspiring course, and the class of 2019 for their support and friendship. Please do check out my youtube chanel here for videos on aspects of the course.
Now I’m all fired up for more painting and I look forward to sharing my progress with you!