I subscribe to Robert Genn's Newsletter. Today's article on "The 37 Club" is worth sharing; it was inspirational to this incessently pokey painter:
The "37 Club"
Being mostly self taught in art techniques, but highly educated in art history, Robert's newsletter hit home. In spite of being self confident, proud of my accomplishments and free of guilt, I am incredibly slow, a perfectionist who gets hung up on details and inevitably discouraged. It's time I gave that up. So I took Robert's advice and stopped when forty minutes were up. I know he said thirty seven, but I have no digital clock in my studio, so I rounded up. Working faster, thoughtlessly, often produces better paintings than the ones we labor over intensively. This example isn't one of them. Hopefully with time, I will discover what is absolutely necessary to get down first instead of painting instinctively. I was also a bit distracted watching the clock. A stop watch may be necessary?
August 20, 2013
As occasional workshop givers, my daughter Sara and I find there are a
few artists we can't help. Some of these folks may be accomplished
professionals with developed careers, but most are in some way simply
There's a wide range of reasons for blockage. One of the most frequent
is the buildup of bad habits in basic techniques learned in lesser
workshops or from hit-and-miss self-teaching. Another source of blockage
is what we call "Educosis," that is, too much theoretical knowledge with
very little actual easel-time. These folks often hate what they do and
abandon early. Still others have issues of self-esteem, self-loathing,
imposter syndrome and guilt. The list goes on.
Trying to work around these blockages is difficult. If you praise the
work of someone with self-esteem issues, for example, they're not liable
to believe you, and dealing psychologically with these folks is more
than humble workshop-givers can muster. That's why we go for practical
ploys that might bypass the blockages.
One of our favourite devices is an old hourglass--for some reason ours
times out at 37 minutes. Way out of some people's comfort zone, the
instrument produces some surprisingly high-quality exercises. At our
recent workshop at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, B.C., participant Jane
Appleby found herself making a remarkable 10 paintings a day, each one
often better than the previous. We called it "The Strange Case of Jane
Appleby." She also demonstrated the ability to do a painting in 37
strokes, winning her full membership in the "37 Club." "When you work
like this," says Jane, "You don't have the time to spoil things by
messing around with your strokes." We've put two of Jane's pumpkins at
the top of the current clickback.
Speed, it seems, short-circuits the right brain to the painter's hand.
By not passing through the theoretical shoulds, coulds, and woulds of
the left brain, the results are more likely to be "artistic."
For homework, we suggest our workshoppers, no matter what their
personal styles, hang out with the "37 Club" every morning for a month
and do a quickie 8" x 10" or 11" x 14". After all, some folks do yoga,
or meditate, or they worship at the altar of Facebook. We can pretty
well guarantee that the first few exercises will be disappointing, but
many blockages will eventually fall away like blue jeans on a nudist
beach. The big payoff is to be happier in your work. Artists of the
world arise, you have nothing to lose but your jeans.