Coming Full Circle


I have been painting for about a year, and it now rivals collage as my favorite thing to do. When I first started, I had one (and only one) rule for myself: Don’t make brown! This worked pretty well and let me experiment with getting color onto the page. I went a little crazy last spring and ordered sixteen (16!) pounds of paint from my favorite art supplier and from that day forward it was game on.


Late last year, I had been roaming the internet, looking for a painting e-course and stumbled on this Q&A with Flora Bowley. She talks about developing your painter’s voice and her advice was to paint 100 paintings and then come back and take her painting course. In a casual conversation with Tom afterward, I told him what Flora said to which he replied, “You’ve probably painted 100 paintings by now.” Turns out he was right.

 Despite having painted 100 paintings, I still hesitate to take a class. (I did take Kelly Rae Robert’s class and it taught me how to paint like she does – only badly.) I don’t want to learn how to paint like someone else. I don’t want to master a specific technique. And I’m not interested in painting anything even remotely representational. I don’t use brushes (I’m completely intimidated by them) and I have basically used nothing but my fingers and old credit cards. Occasionally I will use a tool to make marks, but that is rare.


I don’t know if Flora is right about the 100-painting-thing. I haven’t noticed a distinctive voice developing, however there is a solid vocabulary emerging. Almost all of my paintings have circles in them. Circles are one of my holy touchstones that I come back to again and again. It is a symbol of wholeness, safety, being held and defining space. All the things I needed this past year to let myself expand as an artist . . . plus I’ve gotten pretty good at not making brown.

3 thoughts on “Coming Full Circle

  1. Sheila,
    I feel the same way about the online classes. It seems that most teaching is formulaic and we students inevitably create imitations of someone else’s formula.
    I think you gravitate to the circle for the same reason I do. It is a universal symbol containing much meaning. It is great that you keep painting and I love that you use your fingers as a tool…..how much more tactile can you get?
    The 100 painting rule is discussed by many as a starting point. I think you are well into it.I think letting go of expectation is the key for beginners. I think you should just keep painting and experimenting. You will know when you are ready to benefit from the right teacher. For now you are the right teacher.
    My 20¢ worth……….

    • Thanks for these words Jean. I know you speak from experience.

      I still may take Flora’s class (I find her you tube videos mesmerizing). But I think I will come to that class a lot differently than if I took it last year at this time.

      Funny thing is, I have just just did two paintings that don’t have circles in them. It feels like some kind of breakthrough. Always evolving, this art thing.

      Miss you.
      S

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