August 16

No Easy Button


Ok. Time for a vent about a pet peeve. I was recently online and ordering an art book and found myself amazed at how many books have “Made Easy” in the title. “Watercolor Made Easy”, “Pastels Made Easy”, “Abstracts Made Easy”, “Pencil Shavings Made Easy......

Hmmm..... If this stuff was easy, there would be no need to buy books.

Besides, I tend to like tough things….so if this painting thing was easy, I probably wouldn't do it.

I guess I take offense at the idea that if you JUST learn a few quick tricks, painting will be so simple!

Now, I am all for Bob Ross. No, truly. He took a lot of fear out of tackling a painting and made it accessible to anyone that wanted to try it. Thanks Bob. There is a need for instruction like that. Take out the fear. I think that is a good thing.


And then there are those recent "painting galleries” that are popping up everywhere like “Painting with a Twist”. Apparently there is a need (and I wish I had come up with the idea ) of art being made fun. Painting for pure enjoyment? With friends? From a template? Add a cocktail? Sure! Why not?

Everyone can paint.

But there is a difference in art that is decorative and art that is what I think of as a visual novel from the artist. Something well-constructed and professional. Bob’s paintings were mediocre at best because he just skimmed the surface of what a painting can be. A good painting is complex. A battle fought and won.

I was teaching a portrait workshop a few years ago at a regional business center. I ran into my husband’s friend. He was there at another conference room and I invited him to pop by and see what our class was doing. He came back later on with a very polished lady in tow. I greeted her and welcomed her to have a look around at the artists that were working from the models. She said very loudly “Oh! It must be so nice to play all day.” I was not amused, and neither were the attendees. I told her in a very strong fashion that if she asked around the room, she would find that the artists there were working hard both physically and mentally. My hubby said I probably chased away a potential client, but I didn’t care…

Painting is not easy. It is a mental battle of wits. And the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know. Maybe the books need to be called “How to Understand Watercolor” or “The Complexities of Layering in Pastel” or “How to bring More Joy to the Process of Painting”. Maybe then the expectations would be better aligned.

If I ever need a neurosurgeon, I sure hope he does’t read “Brain Surgery Made Easy” .






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