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Friday, June 20, 2014

Planned Spontaneity

Spontaneity is best when you prepare for it, when you make it possible to be spontaneous.

If you don't have your art supplies at hand, you can't just pick them up and begin to make art. You must go and look for them, assemble them, pack them. The ensuing search breaks the mood, sometimes irreparably.

I have been diligently attempting to bring with me only my most essential and basic art supplies:

  • My favorite antique Waterman fountain pen, newly filled with ink,

  • My vintage Cadbury candy tin full of watercolor paints in half pans,

  • My favorite brushes and a selection of Japanese water filled brushes,

  • Some pencils and erasers, 

  • My most treasured Victorian miniature wooden t-square,

  • A really nice sketch book or two,

  • A bottle of water, and a small container for the water,

  • Paper towels,

  • A horizontal surface on which to place my paints and water,

  • A sturdy and waterproof bag to hold it all.

Being an art tool and materials addict, it is all too easy for me to accumulate lots and lots of art supplies, but when I am painting outside the studio, I must seriously limit what I pack.

Not only must my supplies be the very ones I need, I must have it all in readiness. My paint containers must be full. My brushes must be clean and ready for their task. My water bottle must be full. I must have a small but varied selection of sketchbooks, different sizes, shapes and orientations, and the paper absolutely must be the finest. An adequate painting on mediocre paper is a struggle, but the same labour on good paper practically paints itself.

So there I was this week, on one of my favorite narrow lanes in London, sitting in a tiny restaurant at a window table looking out on some sweet little antique and vintage clothing shops, and the ever present lovely quintessential English flower shop. It was a scene that cried out for the loving caress of my paint brush.

I glanced at the menu, placed my order, and cleared the table for my work to begin. I reached into my leather satchel for my watercolour sketch book, my tin of paints, and my favorite pen and brushes. It was all there, ready and waiting for me.

I made two paintings, one with the pen sketch laid down first and then I painted over it, allowing the water soluble ink to bleed and run in a delightful controlled chaos, and the second painting with the watercolor applied first, and the pen lines delicately and judiciously applied after the paint dried.

I ate giant green olives and half a hamburger. I drank several glasses of sparkling water. I was there for perhaps two hours for each painting. I generously tipped the waiststaff for their time.

Bliss. Pure bliss.

Planned Spontaneity means grasping the opportunity at hand. I mindfully make room in my day, everyday, for Art. And inevitably a subject will present itself.

I am an Artist, and this is how I do what I do.

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