Beginner’s Mind

Experiment in art school. Then, choose a medium and a subject (i.e., landscape, portrait, etc.) and work hard if you want to be successful. That advice is well-intentioned and logical, but all work and no play can make anyone dull or bored. I’m far from bored with painting or with landscapes. The landscape offers something new to see and paint every day. But I’ve got the urge to play and try something different in addition to my painting practice.

When I began painting landscapes in 2015, I looked at a lot of work by other artists and I felt particularly drawn to artwork by several Canadian artists, known as The Group of Seven. They painted between 1920 and 1933 and used many techniques developed by the French Impressionist painters. While I use some of the Impressionist techniques …

                              The Jack Pine by Tom Thomson, Group of Seven artist

                 Forest Algoma (1922) – Arthur Lismer, a Group of Seven artist

I don’t paint like any of the Group of Seven artists. And while I could try to imitate their work, it’s not my style. Their work and particularly the work of Tom Thomson shows the influence of Japanese woodblock print artists, an art form I’ve loved since discovering it during my college days. While I’m almost 100 percent certain I won’t be making woodcut prints—they’re beautiful, but oh so much work (not play)—I’m getting reacquainted with lino prints, a close cousin to woodblock printing.

Woodblock print by  Yoshida Hiroshi

My Winter Diversion/Play

I’m teaching myself to do lino cutting and lino printing. Currently, I handle a brush with a lot more finesse than I can manage with carving tools. So, I have to remember to be patient with myself and with the process. It helps to use beginner’s mind: an attitude of openness while studying new subjects.

I’m keeping my first design simple. It’s a small bunch of three snowdrop flowers. Snowdrops are hardy little flowers that bloom even when snow is on the ground. If they can do it, I can do it (create blooms, I mean). My first two lino blocks weren’t great. I learned some things, though, and maybe I’ll have a print to show in next week’s Art Note.

Until Next Week, A Reminder

My collection of plein air paintings is available until February 12 on my FASO artist website. 

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