Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Happy Little Mountain- a Bob Ross inspired painting.

After returning from a long vacation in the states, it took me some time to pick up the paint brushes again, I just got busy with other things. Last weekend,  I was itchy to start a new painting project at home, and I wasn't quite sure what to paint. But I have been exploring various art instructional videos on the net, where-ever I can find them.  I came across some instructional videos from "Bob Ross", who had a long standing television show in the U.S. on oil painting. While Bob was from Florida,  he had lived for some time in Alaska, and so many of his paintings were inspired by the beauty he found in Alaska. One video I found of Bob's was on how to paint a simple mountain scene. So I decided, since I have just returned from a really nice vacation in Alaska, this seemed like the appropriate painting project for me to start.  So I set up my computer such that I could watch and paint along with Bob Ross in doing this painting of a mountain scene.  Bob's show is 30 minutes, so it took him 30 minutes to paint a similar scene, however, being the beginner and slow poke that I am, I spent about six hours on this painting and only took a short break for dinner. When I paint at home I tend to lose track of time, which is a good sign, I guess..
Every time I paint, I feel as if  I go through such a personal internal process, I go through a whole set of emotions. Often because things don't always turn out as you expect them to in each stage of the journey as you paint.  I had a number of frustrations to deal with. I had trouble with the paint brushes, as some of them were new, they started shedding hairs onto my canvas and into the oil. This was quite frustrating, I had to try and scratch them out with my finger nails until a friend passed me tweezers, which really was such great help. I recommend using tweezers for such problems. (Later, in watching another art video, the instructor mentioned that if you are using a new bush,  you should wash it first to get out the loose hairs. Now I know better :)
Aside from that, I also noticed I was splashing paint all over the marble floor and nearby furniture. I had to stop and clean that up twice before proceeding, I then covered the floor with a sheet. (Also donated by the friend who gave me the tweezers. Thank goodness for helpful and generous friends!)  Thereafter, I began to get frustrated with the clouds, I didn't like the way the clouds looked, so I re-did them, and re-did them and I watch that section of Bob's video a number of times but I still couldn't get my clouds like Bob's or even to the point where I just liked my clouds. They were not "happy little clouds" as Bob would say... Well after many attempts of re-doing, I finally told myself just paint the clouds and move on, even if they are not as you want them at this point in time, I needed to do the clouds so I could move on to the rest of the painting. And so finally, I did. I just did the clouds, they are not as I really want them but I needed to move forward.  I do think that once I made that decision,  things started to go smoother and I started to find the "flow" or the "zone".  In painting the mountain, Bob uses a special palette knife, the one he uses is wider. This was also a bit of a challenge for me for a number of reasons, first I have never used a palette knife to paint with before and so I wasn't really sure how to use it properly, and secondly my knife was thin and not at all shaped like Bob's palette knife. But similar to my personal challenges with the clouds I made a decision to just try my best and keep going.  I allowed myself to experiment without insisting on perfection because I knew due to my lack of experience and knowledge, my mountain and this painting was not going to come out exactly like Bob's or look as good as he can paint it, and you what- that is just fine. This is the constant internal struggle that the beginner goes through, I am sure that I am not the only one that feels this way. In each painting, you got through this process, you learn about yourself and you learn to work with yourself and to allow yourself to just accept that you don't know how to do it all, and some parts may look great and others may not, but regardless, when you are finished with the painting, you are much further ahead then when you started. And so, perseverance, practice and patience with yourself are key. It's all about the journey.