Tools make the artist?

Christmas came early this past week with the arrival of our much anticipated Alla Prima Pochade Boxes, lovingly made by hand by artist/craftsman Ben Haggett.

Andrew and I are plein air newbies and lovers of art supplies. We decided to forgo Christmas gifts this year and purchase two Bitterroot Pochade Boxes.

And the next day, magic happened as we broke our boxes in on a beautiful sunny fall day in lovely Cowichan Bay. The boxes consolidated the supplies we need to take to plein air paint and focused our art making on just that, rather than juggling palettes and paints and even coffee cups! The boxes are so beautifully made, ingeniously functional and they even smell good. Wood smells good. As does salt air and oil paints. And fresh coffee.

Plein air painting is so lovely. Even lovelier with good tools.

Alla Prima Bitterroot Pochade Box in action.
Alla Prima Bitterroot Pochade Box (and Andrew) on the docks at Cowichan Bay.
1957774_10153410419934129_7930409299080672445_o
My Alla Prima Bitterroot Pochade Box on the docks at Cowichan Bay.

Finger painting

My husband and I were sitting in the living room last night, doing our regular evening Netflix and iPad dance where we pretend to watch a movie while browsing the interwebs for anything diversion-worthy. Conversation often blurts out when one of us notices something the other may be interested in. The blurt upon which I now reflect was related to the juxtaposition of these two paintings:

Professional/Student comparison
Professional/Student comparison

We had just come back from a very quick plein air painting session in which we time-boxed 1.5 hours to complete a painting. I liked my little painting (above, right) and thought it a nice step in my progression. Until I saw it juxtaposed beside a professional piece on Pinterest. I said to my husband, (paraphrasing myself):

“I thought my painting was not so bad until I see it beside a real painting, which makes it look like finger painting.”

He just smiled and nodded.

And then my mind went on to justify itself and satisfy my ego by saying “but I don’t want to paint that way, I want to be more loose”. And while that is true and I do want to paint more like Roos Schuring and I am training (not copying) to that end, I was nonetheless, justifying and satisfying.

It is not easy being both a student and a professional at the same time!

I can see where I want to go. I know I will get there eventually through dedication, focus and work – most importantly, work. But the paintings aren’t at the level my other work is in other mediums, so I am embarrassed. Simply put.

And yet I enjoy the process of learning and love those glimpses of understanding how others paint. I enjoy seeing the progression of others as they learn; It’s a mixture of little successes and plenty of failures. A painting can fail on the “final, professional piece” level while succeeding in the learning process and in small bits on the canvas. Some of the marks and colours I made in the Swan Lake Study are lovely. I just need to learn and practice how to make more of those beauties and figure out how to… well, I could write a whole post on what I need to learn. I’ll just leave it at that.

And leave you with my most favourite Roos Schuring painting of the moment. Isn’t she lovely?!

Roos Schuring
Roos Schuring