|"Cherry Blossom Festival at Sunset"|
|"Waterlily Pond" (oil, 8" x 8")|
In the morning of the last day of Dreama Tolle Perry's workshop, we did a wild thing. Each student was given a reference photo, in my case, a pink waterlily; some students, including myself, had to paint their pictures upside down. We were given about five minutes to get the painting started. After that, we did the unimaginable thing. We moved to our neighbor's easel and were given three minutes to work on her painting! After five "musical chair" effects, we returned to our own easel to face the music. Dreama told us to finish the painting with three additional strokes. Yes, three strokes! (I added a few more strokes after lunch.)
The point of the exercise was, I believe, non-attachment. We get so hung upon the product that we sometimes forget to enjoy the act of painting or live in the moment. By being forced to go around working on other students' paintings in such a limited time, we had to toss our attachment. Strangely enough, I felt like living truly in the present. I also tried to do my best, to leave each painting a little better before moving onto the next. I was sincere.
When I turned "my" painting right side up, I saw a beautiful work of art. It was a gift from the workshop participants. Look at how nice these "collaboration paintings" are!
After lunch, we had to face music one more time by working on our own paintings. To be honest with you, I was freaking out quite a bit. Here is why. I don't want to paint like Dreama. I am no body's copycat. At the same time, there are many things I admire in her work. How do I incorporate what I learned from her into my own work without losing my artistic integrity?
I chose a reference photo I took at the Tidal Basin last week. This is the kind of stuff I paint all the time. But as you can see in the finished painting, it was done differently. I started with a dark/mid-tone underpanting, which seemed to suggest a sunset scene. So I followed my gut instinct by changing the time of the day from early afternoon to dusk, which meant that the cherry blossoms could not be as light as in the photo. The painting became quite moody and more interesting. If I had been left to my own devices, I would have added three hundred more strokes for the dainty cherry flowers. No, I did not succumb to the temptation. Dreama loved my colors. I was pleased like a little girl at her praise!
|Reference photo for "Cherry Blossom Festival at Sunset"|
I am going to end my "Dreama experience" with what she said at the very beginning of the workshop. She encouraged us to be true to our heart. She pleaded us to be not our own harshest critic, but one's own best friend. Each name tag she had made for us came with an uplifting message. Mine read: "My paintings are extraordinarily great!" I was meant to become an artist. Don't ever forget why I am doing this. Style will come with doing lots of paintings. But what guides my life is the JOY of creating art.