Monday, 24 September 2012


I have met many interesting people during the course of my Open Studio.  One lady had been to my classes many years ago....the memory came flooding back.

I had asked the class to bring, from home, something they really were fond of, something that gave them pleasure whenever they looked at it.  The plan was to build a still life around that object.

This lady brought in a photo of her pet parrot.  She then spent the next few weeks pretending to paint it...while in fact, demanding  "you show me how to paint it".  So being a sympathetic sort, I ended up painting her parrot. I attempted to work on a separate sheet - she wasn't having that, I had to work on her painting. 

After the parrot was finished, I asked her to please bring along something else for the following week, something she felt capable of painting, something she really liked looking at.  An object, ideally.  

She brought in a photo of her hamster.

So I was not at all surprised when she virtually got down on bended knee this week to beg me to teach her, because she just "could not paint at all" despite the passage of time and numerous tutors since.  I asked her why she felt she had made no progress with the painting.  She said "the teachers just would not help me at all".  I suspect that meant she still wanted them to paint her pictures for her.  She would never do any of the practice pieces I would set for my students, like adult homework;   she would only complain that she was never "getting enough help".

The moral of the story is pretty obvious..........if you want to learn to paint, you have to paint.  Not expect others to do it for you. Or expect a tutor to have all the answers you need.  You need to rely on yourself, on your resourcefulness and your determination.  My guess is that if you read my blog, then you probably are this kind of person and do not need this boring lecture, but I would like to say one thing that perhaps you have not thought about ....there is much in learning to paint that cannot be taught to you by another.  These are the lessons that we learn just from doing it.  Of course, you can help yourself along the way by listening to the tutors, reading books, filling yourself with background knowledge.  But the important thing to recognise is that alongside all the listening and learning, you have to be DOING.  

 Harley Brown says "we survive by building from within and not quick fixes".  He also advises that we should throw ourselves into our efforts, be it the humblest of drawings or grandest of paintings.  There should be personal involvement and inner energy with every stroke.  

If there is no passion in the doing, then the result will be bland.

Today's offering is at the top of this post, it is a new one done for the Open Studio called POPPY RIOT, it is 6"x6" (image size) on Wallis Museum paper, plus its mount and frame it is 10"x10", and can be yours for just $100.  Below, you can see it framed...looks really good, as the black centres of the poppies echo the colour of the contemporary-looking frame.  It's a lively little picture!  Those poppies really were having a great time. Email me if interested.  Paypal payment is fine. 


  1. every post you make is so full of good hints.
    You are addictive!

  2. Ah, this is very thought provoking. It is so easy to overlook the fact that to get better at something we have to do it. And do it. And do it. Great post!

  3. That was the best advice I ever got. JUST DO IT. You learn to (fill in the blank) by just doing it over and over again. I am no great artist but I am sometimes shocked at what I have done. My George, she's got it!


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