As some of you may know, I was blessed beyond belief to get to attend a live workshop with my favorite artist (Flora Bowley) last November. Ever since I got back from Portland, I have been filled with this urge to write about my trip. Rather than writing the LONGEST blog post ever, I'm going to write a mini-series and incorporate little stories here and there. They will not be chronological, but so it goes. :)
(photo by: Michelle Matisse)
This story picks up on Day Two of our workshop. We spent Day One meeting one another, buying art supplies, and slapping paint onto two of the big white canvases we were given.
If you watch Project Runway, you know that when Tim Gunn or Heidi Klum brings out the "button bag" the designers are in for a twist. Well Flora kicked off Day 2 of painting with a button bag moment of her own. Throughout the workshop, we worked on multiple canvases at once, switching back and forth, and always had different paintings going on at once. As we were easing into our second painting, we noticed Flora shuffling around behind us. She was switching all of our paintings around!
See that painting in the far right corner? That is the painting that I was given in exchange for one of my paintings. The really funny thing about this exchange is that I had been secretly eying this painting the first day, admiring the use of colors artist Jennifer Magel used. The color pallette was so different than mine and I was drawn to the newness feeling of it.
After Flora made the switches, I scanned the room to collect the reactions of other artists. I think everyone was a little shocked. After all...this was OUR artwork! Our shapes, our paint drips, and our color schemes. Some artists were already starting to love their paintings and it just did not seem fair to have to give them away!
Flora gathered us around to explain why she had exchanged our paintings. In order to be a brave and intuitive painter, it is crucial NOT to get too attached to your artwork early on. The idea is to PLAY- make marks, dance around, and experiment. If you begin a painting with an idea in your mind and don't take the time to truly play in a noncommittal way, your painting will fall flat. If you paint the same things in every painting, you are not growing as an artist. If you are not open to new color schemes and new content, you are not being brave. The first few layers of a painting should all be about having fun and creating dimension.
This philosophy helped me throughout my time in Portland. It allowed me not to overthink. As I began working on the new painting I was given, allowed myself to innately add marks and images that spoke to my aesthetic. Since I loved Jennifer's composition and colors so much, I kept the general shapes and stuck to her colors. This challenge made me try something brand new and resulted in a collaborative painting that I never would have come up with on my own.
36x36 inches on canvas
Available on Etsy.
I titled this painting "Portals" because the first time I saw it (while it was still in Jennifer's hands) my eyes gravitated towards the orange circles. When you peaked through, pops of lighter blue came forward. This immediately reminded me of the circular windows on a ship, In general, portals are openings...doorways, windows, and gates. They can be entrances or exits.
My entire experience with Flora in Portland felt so surreal. I truly felt like I had entered into this new world that I never knew existed. I entered into a carefree mindset of not over thinking, not worrying, and letting go of expecations. When Flora switched our paintings around, I felt free and liberated from my normal colors and shapes. To me, "Portals" really captures what this painting and experience was all about: Entering into new worlds and crossing into new terrirories.
There are so many portals in our everyday lives. Sometimes we just need to remember to seek them out and be ready to take a chance.