Charlie giving an outdoor demo
How often do we pass up an opportunity simply because we are stuck in our own patterns? I have been guilty too often myself. As a child I was open to all ideas including fantasy and make believe. Now, as I grow older, I know that I have adopted certain perspectives on life in general and art in particular that aren’t easy to change. I watch my seven-year old granddaughter, lying on the floor with a colouring book, carefully applying colours totally different from reality (a red cow, green sky). I ask myself, why not? Getting too old for imagination? I hope not.
Whenever I am asked to comment on an artist’s work or a group of artist’s paintings at a meeting, for example, I listen carefully. I start in by asking questions, hoping to determine what advice might be helpful. When I hear defensive walls going up such as “but, it’s not finished yet” or “that’s the way it was” my impulse is to be polite and move on. But when an artist asks, “How would you handle this subject?” or “I think I need help with design, don’t you?” my instincts tell me that they are looking for some fresh choices and I am pleased to be asked - especially when I feel that the artist is sincerely interested in my take. Quite often a simple question, turns into an interesting discussion.
Art is so personal. Relying on years of teaching and painting experience, I explain how I would approach the painting, offering possibilities to correct problem areas, perhaps suggesting ideas for a more dramatic approach by tweaking the composition – all in the form of choices for discussion. Even if the artist decides to reject any or all suggestions, in the end, they are farther ahead having seen their work through the practiced eye of another artist. Simply by asking.
It’s a two-way street of course. I get a lot of enjoyment from organizing the Manotick Art Association Plein Air program for example and dealing with the occasional request from a struggling artist. Each time we paint together I get to observe different painting approaches, I check out the latest art gizmos, and I try to understand how the others make time for their art with their busy lifestyles and commitments. It’s amazing.
Happy painting and exciting new choices,
The Art of Charles Spratt