Change comes in many ways. Some changes we seek while others are forced upon us. Many people find change a frightening prospect. Some welcome or even seek it. But all would agree that change is necessary if life is to improve.
As an artist, I make a real effort to be open to learning and to change. The ongoing quest to improve my work compels me to enroll in one major workshop a year. I will often travel long distances, pay a fee and incur the cost of hotels and meals, all to glean some wisdom from a master artist.
I first look for an artist I admire and enter these workshop with the attitude that I am a sponge. I strive to leave all of my preconceived notions at the door. The less habitual behavior I take into the class, the more I learn.
Inevitably, however, there is at least one artist in attendance who has no intention of learning anything new. Every workshop has one of these students. He or she doesn’t listen or try to execute any of the lessons as the instructor intended. They simply look at the scenery, don’t take notes and are bored.
I have talked to these artists and noted one consistent trait: they are not willing to change. Why they bother to enroll in a workshop isn’t clear, but further discussion has revealed something else. They also want to be the best artist in any group they paint with.
Now, I never want to be the worst (I have my pride and ego too) but I also want to paint with some artists who are better than I am. Their talent pushes me to work harder as I try to improve and rise to their level. They inspire me to change.
I was just reading the article on Scott Christensen in the Spring edition of PleinAir Magazine. Scott talked extensively about his process and described how his paintings evolve.
“Other people might look at one of my paintings in progress and think it’s finished, then the next day they come into the studio and see that I’ve revised big sections. In order to work to the highest level, I have to be willing to make those hard decisions and do whatever is required to make the painting successful.”
I agree with that wholeheartedly.
The ability to distinguish between what is good and what is better only happens when you are open to change. Improvement can only take place when I allow it to; when I trust that I can improve my painting even if I have to destroy it first.
So push beyond your comfort zone. . . Paint the good fight. Embrace change.
To learn more about Sharon Weaver, please visit her website.
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