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Voices in My Head


As the publisher of an arts magazine I have certainly had many perks over the years. Not only have I had the great pleasure of connecting to many wonderful artists, I have also been able to organize and attend classes.

Twenty plus workshops later, I now hear the voices of my many mentors when I am creating.

Early on in my training I had the opportunity to take a class from Saskatchewan artist, Ward Schell. I was struggling with a portrait of my dog Cheyenne. I was using all different tones of browns, beige and copper. Those were Cheyenne’s markings. “Add some purple”, Ward said, and walked away. Purple? My dog’s not purple. But I tried purple and it made the world of difference. Now I look at my work and think, hmm, could it use some purple? Did you know that if you take burnt sienna and purple and add a little bit of white, you will get a lovely grey?

“Pick a battle you can win”, says Brian Buckrell. Instead of stressing over creating a complex scene, pick a small ‘something’ that you can have fun creating. You don’t have to paint the whole scene. Now when I look for an image to paint, I think "Can I win this battle?"

As Robert Bateman told us in one of his lectures, the recipe for success is simple - DO ART. You must first make 200 mistakes so get busy and start making mistakes. Thanks Robert, I am well on the way to making my first 200 mistakes.

Paint around things, I hear David Langevin say. Good advise as I now do that all the time. It's especially fun when working with  trees.

One particular comment from Mike Svob often comes to mind. During a Svob workshop, I was moaning about having to paint a tree. “Susan”, Mike said, “you are not painting a tree. You are painting an 'impression' of a tree!” That really hit home to me. Now that I am an instructor, I often share that story with my students and remind them that they are making an impression of something.

I can hear Perry Haddock say “It’s only a canvas.” There is nothing to be scared of so just start painting. It’s only a canvas.

Brent Lynch’s voice reminds me to “Look for triangles.” And so I shall. Allan Wylie tells me to add some drama. Thanks Allan.

I wonder if my students hear my voice in their heads as they paint? “Change the direction of your painting strokes." "Have some fun and move that paint around.” Or perhaps they hear me say “Time for a coffee break!”

Last Updated on: 2024-04-17