On the Eve of the Day of our Independence, I started thinking about our freedom and how thankful I am to be living in the U.S.A. Then, I was thinking how sometimes, we, as artists, can often feel chained by our limits in making Art? I like to think that anyone who wants to make Art, can; any style of Art, with any medium available, on any surface, anywhere. I know we all have our limits that can be caused by several things; time, money, availability, space, health, and even fear. But what if we didn’t? What if we didn’t avoid some mediums, like watercolor? And how did they get such a bad reputation of being difficult, anyway? What if we didn’t have to worry about how much we spent on materials; and everything was accessible and we could use all we wanted? What if we had all the time in the world with nothing else to do but paint? What if everyone liked whatever we did and we never met opposition from art critics and society? What if we were able to gain FREEDOM with our Art?
Art should be the one thing we have the full control of and be free to produce. But it seems that most of us feel we do not. We feel that our Art has to be something that everyone accepts and likes and approves of. So we try to do what is acceptable at the time. From a new budding artist to professionals, we all have to deal with this fear of being accepted. But think of what would have happened if we all did what was only acceptable all the time? Back in France, at the time when Monet was painting, artists of his kind were being turned down by the Salon Galleries because they were different. If Monet had conformed, he would not have become the Father of Impressionism and there might have never been an Impressionism Movement. This movement changed the history of Art. It is the same with all the other styles that evolved throughout time. Someone had to be brave and step out and gain Freedom from their fear of being different. It happens all the time. Think of all the canvases and paint that he used and how much time and money he invested before he made a break through. He was quoted to have said ” I’m not lacking for enthusiasm as you can see, given that I have something like 65 canvases covered with paint and I’ll be needing more since this place is quite out of ordinary; so I’m going to order some more canvases… ” He just refused allow his Art to be limited by his means.
Monet used his materials like they were unlimited and without cost. How would that be if we were able to paint without having to worry about what we spent on art materials? Joe Miller, you know him as “Cheap Joe”, told me a story once. He said when he first began painting, he was given some vital advice from his mentor, Noyes Capehart. Noyes told him that if he was really interested in learning how to paint with watercolors, he had to give up his fear of using materials and paint as if he had all the money in the world to buy supplies with. He said, only with this in his mind, would he find the Freedom to paint! Noyes’ advice to Joe was to buy a 25 pack of Arches 300lb. watercolor paper and a #12 Winsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky brush and 37 ml tubes of Winsor and Newton watercolor. Now, these were the days before Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff and American Journey paints, Kilimanjaro paper, and Legend brushes! Joe spent over $700.00 on his beginner watercolor kit! The brush alone was nearly $350.00 back in 1984. Joe was scared to death! But Noyes assured him this investment would make all the difference in the way he learned how to paint, and the way he paints still today. He was right! Joe found Freedom with his Art!
As beginners, we all feel control and freedom seem farthest from the truth. There are rules to learn and abide by. You can’t do this and you can’t do that. I had a customer comment the other day, on the phone, that she put away her desire to create art early in her life because her “art” teacher told her that trees are not purple. Who’s to say that trees cannot be purple? She has just recently, after retirement, started to pick up her desire to paint again. Think of all the years she missed out on her Art because someone told her she could not paint a purple tree! Should we not have the freedom to choose? It is after all our art. “Our” meaning we own it. It is ours. We should not have to conform to what others think it should be.
In our society, we are used to following rules as in most things we should. We stop at a Stop Sign, because it is there for order and safety. Some things should have rules, but our Art? I don’t think so. Sometimes, we just need to be given permission to do Art the way we want to. Robert Burridge is a nationally recognized Acrylic artist, known for his loose and uninhibited painting style. This guy paints with mops! How is that for Freedom! I would say he is kinda like Monet and his friends, in that he rarely stays within the lines and he rarely adheres completely to the rules. Bob teaches workshops on Abstract Acrylic painting across the nation. At the beginning of his workshops he hands out a small bright yellow slip of paper that simply says, “Permission”. Bob is, in a sense, granting his students “Permission” to create their Art the way they have always wanted to. He is giving them the Freedom they need to produce their own Art. Freedom, don’t we all need it? I do! From whatever would keep me from being the artist God intended me to be. He has given me a desire to create Art and I must use the Freedom, in which he has granted me, to create my own Art. We must all feel Free to make our Art, Free to take chances, free to explore new techniques, free to be a little different than everyone else.
So, today, when you are planning your time of Celebration for the Freedom we enjoy in America, take time to celebrate Freedom with your Art! Try something new today that you have been wanting to but may have seemed too intimidating, like encaustics. Try that”not so cheap” brush that you have been eyeballing for a while, as it might make all the difference in the way you paint. Try that new idea that seems to keep popping up in your mind, as you might find a new Art movement on the horizon! Take a chance and gain a little Freedom with your Art. You might use a little paint, but what good is it going to do you in the tube anyway? What are you saving it for? Pick up your brush and feel free to sling some paint! You have my “Permission!”
Cheap Joe’s hopes you have a Happy and Safe Independence Day
and start enjoying your new found Art Freedom, today!!