Creativity Calls

Creativity Calls


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Creativity can knock on your soul when you're young or old - or at any point in between.

When creativity calls, don't hesitate.

Answer with enthusiasm.

Recognize the Teacher

We've all heard the saying 'When the student is ready, the teacher will appear' - or words to that effect.

But will you be able to identify the teacher?

Will the teacher be a person - or perhaps an event instead?

You may have to be bold and look carefully everywhere to figure out who or what the teacher is.

My Own Teacher

In the mid-90s when I was in my mid-50s and living in Jakarta, Indonesia, opportunity presented itself to me. It wasn't obvious, and I might not have recognized it if I'd been timid or not in the perfect frame of mind.

An acquaintance phoned me in the middle of the night looking for a place to sleep. Danielle (not her real name) was having trouble with her roommates and needed to get away from them. I told her to come right over.

The following morning, I had a brainstorm. It just so happened that Danielle was an experienced artist, so I offered her a place to stay for as long as she needed with the condition that she be my art teacher.

Oil painting

Danielle agreed, took me shopping for supplies, showed me how to mix oil paints, and then gave me one piece of teaching: 'just play with the darks and lights.'

On My Own

Danielle stayed with me for several weeks, and I'm eternally grateful to her even though she didn't take on the role of teacher. I had to teach myself all the in's and out's of painting with oils.

I'd never taken any art classes in high school or college - not even art appreciation. Without any previous instruction, all my painting was done by trial and error. I loved it, though, and painted pretty consistently for a short while.

I was happy with what I produced but then began working as a tour director (another opportunity that I grabbed even though friends and family tried to discourage me).

Being on the road much of each year made it difficult for me to continue painting. Whenever I got into a painting groove, I soon had to break my rhythm and head out to lead tours.

My oil painting stopped - at least for the time being.

Creativity Calls Again

Now, after more than 20 years of not painting, creativity knocked again.

This time though, I felt moved to paint with pastels instead of oils. That doesn't mean that I won't pick up my brushes again at some point and do some oil painting, but for the time being, I'm really happy with the vibrancy of pastels and how pastels are so personal.

Pastel strokes

What I mean is that pastels are almost like finger painting. I hold the colored pastel in my fingers and make strokes with it. Then I might even use my finger to blend the pastel on the paper. Very personal.

And yes, my fingers get very dirty with pastels. A good dirty.

Even so, cleaning up after a painting session isn't nearly as much work with pastels as with painting.

Technology to the Rescue

Technology has made my life living overseas so much easier than before we had ATM cards, international credit cards, Skype - and so much more.

And technology has even made my painting life easier. I now devour online pastel video tutorials. I've found a site called Patreon that provides a place for teachers of all kinds and eager students to meet.

Of course, in my case, I'm following several art teachers who specialize in pastel styles that I aspire to learn. I want to develop expertise in painting animal portraits. People who want portraits of their pets will want a realistic interpretation of their beloved animal, so I've subscribed to some artists who do great animal portraits.

But I want to develop a painterly style as well. And I've found a couple of pastel artists that have wonderful painterly styles.

Watching tutorials of both groups of artists provides me with great inspiration to work on developing my own style for both realistic pet portraits as well as paintings that are more impressionistic.

And the Results ?

Give me a few months. Right now, I'm at my brother's house in the Chicago area. I've ordered pastel supplies and will be heading home in another week. When I get there, I'll break out my new supplies and put my learning to the test.

Come back here to see future results.

About the Author

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Hi - I'm Kate - Mixed media artist, dog lover, and shoestring traveler to Indonesia, Nepal, India, Tibet, Malaysia, Thailand, Spain, Russia, Siberia, and more. Well-trained and loyal servant to 5 whippets and 1 Dalmatian. Join me as I answer my artistic calling in pastels, acrylics, and all kinds of mixed media.

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