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Friday, April 18, 2014

Painting Out & Being A Good Noticer

Foliage, Holmes, NY ©DeborahBollman,
Watercolor, Plein Air, Sold

I was asked a question on the subject of en plein air painting and why go outside in the sun, elements, and bugs when I could just paint from a photo in the comfort of my studio. 

I mulled over this one on of my early morning hikes with my dog, Tess.

And the title of Chapter 8 from the book Doctor Dolittle popped into my head which is... 

Are You A Good Noticer?

  • Have you ever stopped to just watch a hawk soar overhead?
  • Have you noticed lately the beautiful changing colors of the clouds at sunset?
  • When was the last time you pulled the car over to marvel at a beautiful view, not because it is your destination, but just “because”.
  • Have you laid out on a blanket at night to contemplate the stars and Universe lately?
  • Did you ever notice the the dandelion flowers open in the morning, and close up their blooms at night? How about the color? Such an incredible happy yellow!
  • Have you ever gotten close enough to a wild animal to look him in the eye?
  • How about just walking and listening to the silence in a forest?

What does this have to do with painting outside? Everything. Painting outside is about unplugging from technology, and tuning into Source. It’s about slowing down and noticing that there is a whole world going on out there while we humans are running on the wheel. 

When you set up an easel outside you have to really observe things. the colors of shadows, the sweep of a mountain, how the different parts of the landscape relate to one another. And then the painting is done quickly to capture the light before it changes, or the weather comes changes or the heat gets you. 

Painting outside teaches you to notice. It teaches you to marvel. It teaches you that you really are part of something bigger and grander. 

It teaches you to notice what an amazing beautiful planet we live on. 

And that’s why I paint outside.

Why do you paint outside? Or why don't you?

Add your comments below!

Happy painting!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Perfectionism and Doing it Scared

Misty Trees, Watercolor, ©DeborahBollman, Sold

Boy, that title just about says it all. I’ve just gone through that dreaded period in the life of a creative where the well feels like it had run dry. As a painter I had there is nothing quite as intimidating as staring down a blank, glaring white sheet of paper when you have lost all inspiration.

Judging by my email I can say with assurance that this seems to be a fairly common thing among those of us who create... be it a painting a painting, writing a book or blog content, composing a song... 

I’m going to be very transparent here. I was doing everything in by bag of tricks to avoid that sheet of paper that was staring accusingly back at me. I would “get” busy. If I’m busy, well, then I don’t have time to paint. There are too many other important things that need to get done! 

I finally reached a point where the guilt from not painting got so bad that I had to take a step back and re-assess. I had to get to the bottom of things and I decided to work with a mindset coach to try and figure out why I was trying to avoid doing something that I loved and what I discovered wasn’t pretty. 

One of the key insights that I learned is that it is not laziness or procrastination that was stopping me. It was...wait for it.... perfectionism. Yes, you heard that right. My artwork had gotten to the point where I was making good sales and had I put the pressure on myself to make every painting count. I no longer was painting for the fun of it anymore but for the market and a living. 

The fear of “getting it wrong”, screwing up and the prospect of what if next thing I paint doesn’t even come close to being as good as the last thing that I painted was stopping me in my tracks.

I work in watercolor and those of you that know watercolor know that the odds of “getting  it right” (whatever that actually means) every time is pretty slim to none. And that concept of possible failure was death to the perfectionistic ego that I was starting to become a slave to.

“The Solution”

My coach said you simply have to “do it scared”. You can’t wait until everything aligns and the fear will  magically go away. It just doesn’t work that way. Just do it scared. So I did. And you know what? It works. It feels really uncomfortable at first but I had to give myself permission to be imperfect. And guess what? The fun came back.. it led me back into the fun of seeing what the paint could do and pushing the envelope. And the bonus some of those paintings that I considered "mistakes" sold right off the easel.

An Even Bigger A-ha

And from this came an even bigger a-ha moment when I realized that we aren’t just talking about about perfectionism in just painting anymore.

We were talking about life.

How do you handle that blank paper, canvas...sheet of paper and perfectionism? 

I'd love to know. 

Leave your comments in the section below!


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