Painting Together on Skype

Question: How do you become re-motivated to do a beloved activity again?
Answer: Try doing whatever worked in the past.

My watercolour palette.

I haven’t written very much about the art side of our lives lately. My painting took a back seat when we finally moved into our wonderful house six months ago.

I tried out the following excuses for not painting:

  • Moving into a grand house that still needs finishing is too distracting. (painting, shelving, organizing)
    • This a lame excuse. What difference does paint-on-the-walls make to painting on canvas?
  • How can I paint when I’m visiting with our VIP guests? Our wonderful kids came for a long winter’s rest and like an adoring fan, I just wanted to follow them around and have conversations with them all the time.
    • Also lame. They didn’t appreciate me stalking them either!
  • It wouldn’t be fair for me to create while Larry still has to slog it out in the main studio insulating, mudding, drywalling, painting , etc.
    • Another lame excuse. It would actually be helpful for one of us to start creating a marketable product!
I finally pulled out my art books and placed them on shelves.

The longer the non-painting period lasts, the harder it is to get back into the brush work. I started questioning whether painting and art is what I really want to do and whether I still have that creative spark anyway. This is one of the topics of conversation that comes up from time to time with fellow artists in Bear River.

I thought about where my motivation came from in the past when I went through ‘fallow’ periods in painting. I remembered that painting with others has always created an energy that leads me back to a place where the ideas, motivation and inspiration start flowing again. I fondly remembered painting with my friends Kathy and Dianne when I lived in Toronto. We’d spend a Sunday together painting and eating and catching up on each other’s lives. I missed that camaraderie and I wanted to recreate that for myself.

We used the same reference photos.

Kathy missed our painting time too. (Dianne would too, but she’s busy having a fabulous winter in Hawaii). We talked on the phone and made a date to Skype each other and try to recreate one of our painting visits.

We treated it like an actual visit and sent each other photo reference material in advance so that we could work from the same images. We made a decision to work with watercolours this time. We angled our computers so that we could watch each other paint. It was quite the experiment!

Kathy's computer was positioned in a better way than mine. At the same time, she could see my paper and palette.

We spent 3 hours on Skype and chatted while we painted. Kathy’s had lots of work to show me and I felt that old energy and love of painting coming back. It wasn’t as good as actually being together, in person and we got disconnected a couple of times. The worst part was the visual. Skype is not (yet!) able to display the range of colours and high resolution like a photograph does.

BUT it was a wonderful way to spend a morning and way more successful than I thought it would be. By the end of it I felt like I had actually spent time at the same table with Kathy.

I enjoyed playing with wet watercolours again.

I’ve waited a couple of weeks to write about this, partly because I didn’t want to ‘jinx’ my return to painting. Since then, a couple of other developments have helped to spur me on and, guess what? I DO still have the spark!

I’m painting and I’m loving it.

Thanks Kathy!

7 thoughts on “Painting Together on Skype

  1. Louise, thank you!
    I’m back in a place and space where I have time to explore again and now that I’m there, I can’t imagine NOT creating. But when I’ve been away from it for a while, that voice is quiet.
    How is your work coming…….is your studio open this summer for visitors?

  2. Flora, I’m impressed with the tutorial that I watched and with your paintings. I had to laugh at your excuses (especially about stalking your children – sometimes I feel like that with mine) and about you moving into a new house (we will be in maybe a month) and losing your way (that’s how I feel after about a 5 year hiatus while I was in Real Estate. I’ve been out of it since last July and aside from my depression excuse, I haven’t produced much of anything this entire time off. I look forward to getting to know you and the others in Jane’s class. I’m sure there’s more excitement to come. Sending a smile, Chris

    1. Hi Chris! Thanks for the nice words about the tutorial and my work. Thanks for dropping by.
      Life really is wave, isn’t it? The great thing about the art side is that, like riding a bicycle, the skill is always with you. In fact, I think that it continues to improve in a way because once you start looking at life and images and scenery and objects and people through the eyes of an artist, you always do and are always noticing colour and shape no matter whether you are creating your work or not.
      The other part, for me anyway, is the human connection. I am inspired by other people. period. So going to a workshop, talking to other artists about their work or Skyping with an art friend or taking an online workshop like you and I are right now….all those things make it so much easier to get going….it also helps when the ‘kids’ go back to their wonderful busy lives. 😉
      But of course the picking-up-the-brush is the best activity because practice and doing are what feeds the soul. I am pretty excited about the work I’ve been doing lately and hope to also make some time to blog about it.
      So, don’t be hard on yourself about “not producing much”. Just step into your creative space and do it! Without the judgment, without any preconceived notions. Because it is the doing that helps us artists so much!

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