Sunday, February 7, 2010

Story Time: Stephen Snider, Fredericks, and the Warkworth Co-op

Stephen Snider was one of my art teachers, along life's way. He was good, and he did all the things that art teachers should do to students: he motivated, inspired, taught, and challenged.

Let me tell you what I mean by challenged.

I was struggling to figure out which end of my paint brush to stick in water, when Stephen tossed this scene out as a challenge. Its a picture of the old mill and coop in Warkworth Ontario, across the street from the seniors centre where Stephen led his art classes.

I painted and repainted this scene, and never got it right. It was more an exercise in frustration then anything else. And, what frustrated me most of all was that Stephen who rarely painted in waters, picked up a brush and tossed this picture off, without seeming to break into a sweat.

And here's where this blog entry is going.

It was not just a challenge for me, but it exceeded my level of ability. It was beyond the grasp of my level of skill and confidence.

The moral of the story - I guess as artists we have to be realistic and know our limitations. Its ok to reach for the moon - but what happens if we can't grasp it? Are we prepared for the consequences?

As painters, we need to be challenged, but we also need to be able to accept our limitations and not be overly discouraged by failure.

It was only when I reached the point as a watercolourist, when I could paint without worrying about the consequences of failure, that I had a signficant breakthrough in my development.

I have known many beginning watercolour painters, gasp with horror at their first paintings in waters - then toss their brushes down and walk away from the media.

I have painted in waters now for about 5 years. The Warkworth mill is now within my reach - I think. Its time for a repaint.

Please check the list of featured artists on the right side of the page for a link to Stephen's site.

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