Paint FAST and Finish S-L-O-W

One of my favorite things to do is to paint in public. Not only do I get to paint, I also get to meet new people, sell some art, and reconnect with former students and good friends. I call that a “Win–Win–Win”!

Recently I met several former students at a fair, including Carolyn, Deb, and Sheri.

As is my custom, I asked what they were painting. One said she is getting ready to start a new painting, one showed me a few photos of her paintings on her iPhone, and the other told me she hadn’t painted in a while.

I’m not remembering what I told the last student at the time, but her comments have stayed with me.

People often tell me that I make painting with watercolor look “so easy.” I usually reply, “Well that’s my job.” Then we smile and laugh.

But there is more to painting than that and I don’t want to shortchange anyone!

I wish I had told the non-painting student to slow down a little bit.

Wait, what?

Most of my students can still hear me telling them to “paint faster!” long after class is over. (Sheri said that I sit on her shoulder, telling her to paint faster all the time.)

Watercolor works best when applied in swift, bold strokes (most of the time).

But it’s important to slow down in between the brush strokes! Wow, this might be the first time I have said that in this way.

Some of us have a natural tendency to stop and ponder our work between our strokes. Others might misinterpret my sense of urgency in applying the paint to include the entire painting process.

I am a very fast painter … in the beginning of the painting. I slow W-A-Y down as the painting progresses.

That is the part most people do not see (it really can be boring to watch the paint dry while I decide what to paint next).

Some artists regularly finish a painting in two to three hours. Not me. While I do paint quickly, I have learned to savor the entire slow painting process.

Paint fast and finish slowly,” that is what I wish I had told the student who hasn’t painted in a while.

“Don’t take stock too soon.” Remember that most paintings go through an “adolescent stage,” when they are not yet finished and you do not like them at all.

Did you read the part where I said a painting is NOT finished in the “adolescent stage”? That means, “Keep Painting!”

That is why I like to have two to three paintings going at all times. When I get “stuck” on one, or need to give it a rest, I have another one to paint.

Starting anything from scratch can be tough; there is a lot of inertia to be overcome. My friend Judy says, “It’s like walking through Jell-O.”

My non-painting student seemed sad when she told me that she hadn’t been painting, and she left the booth fairly quickly. I hope she reads this and that she will pick up her brush again. I also hope that she will be gentle with herself and with her paintings.

Painting is good for the Soul. It can be meditative. Painting can be a dance of life and color. It can be a joy, or it can be a burden if it becomes a “should.”

If painting becomes a “should” for you, definitely take a break and let your painting, your brush, and yourself rest!