Saturday, October 10, 2009


I'm not an artist. I AM PRACTICING (this is a little play that my friend and i adopted. we say we're practicing artists, haven't "graduated" yet)
And i'm not even enrolled in a class right now.
I've been busy on the other side of my brain editing curriculum as a paid favor for my former school system. Who knew it would take so long? T E D I O U S.

Now i'm back to practicing. When i went to my first post retirement painting class about 2 years ago, and was asked what interested me, i laid my hand on the stack i'd brought along: watercolors, acrylics, pencils, oil sticks, gouache, pastels, ...and said, "i'd like to learn how to use some of these".
It takes lots of practice, including the practice of telling my brain off once in a while. the chatter. the frustration. the arguments.

I read in a book called SPARKS OF GENIUS by a MacArthur fellow, Robert Root-Bernstein, about the tools of creative thinking as he presented many of the macarthur foundation fellowship recipients from a great variety of fields. The painter described had a 'successful' career, schooling, shows, sales...but was not satisfied. He decided to work on a painting, one painting, over and over, repainting it many times, and everyday for maybe two years, varying the positioning of a line. huge pieces. when he finished, he had a huge collection.

that's my lead. i'm painting MY mountain (i own a lot of geography: my arch, my mountain, grin) over and over again. PRACTICING with my stack of stuff that makes marks. it started in that first class, which is the last picture that i posted, in acrylics. and then ... many have followed. above that are smaller ones, one of my photos and journal entry from last summer, and the first group of four are not finished, and may be tossed, but i'm working on them now...they're 4x6 inches and on the same grainy piece of paper with too much gesso on it. but...i'm learning this way. by myself. and the more i play, the looser my head becomes, and the wiggly lines and blending colors start to emerge.

the first license plate, and one from new mexico. that's where MY mountain is. my arch is here in michigan with me. MY LOVES, these two states.. BUDDHAFULL NEW MEXICO, and a reminder to "LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH."


  1. what a great way to look at life...a work in progress with a lot of practicing, art & life...

  2. Practice, practice, practice said my piano teacher, Mrs. Harris but then have fun. Love your mountains.
    We made our visit to New Mexico, last year, at the end of September.
    IT WAS GORGEOUS. John promises me that we will go again, next year.
    I am holding him to that promise. :)Bea

  3. That last one is stunning, Nancy! With practice you will surprise yourself.

  4. yea! showing your beautiful WORK! (she sang singing in her best falsetto!!!) Your mountain never looked so gorgeous!!! and I think that as artists, (you might not call yourself that) that is what we do, we practice and sometimes we find something that we do that we are pleased with! xoxox niao! : )

  5. don't know if I agree with your title statement-- ALL Artists should always be practicing... and so I don't see a distinction.

  6. layers: donna......true. not a distinction. i'm LEARNING that. my conversation with paint/marks will continue.....i've a long winter ahead to play inside with all that.

  7. I like your practicing...a long winter ahead to play inside...sounds delightful!
    See you at Willow Manor!

  8. oh look at you! vbg! keep making those marks. And claiming "your geography!" miss you....

  9. I love the process you are highlighting in this post...your process. And I cannot wait to see if you take a stab at practicing your amazing arch!

  10. They all look very different ..... as they should! What a cool process - and I love your ownership of the place :)

    And hey - don't Doctors practice too? They "practice" medicine even though they have a degree :)

  11. Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for commenting on my blog—I’m so glad I now found yours! You have a rich and varied collection of insights and art I will enjoy reading and looking at.
    I think you have a right to call yourself an artist. In my mind, it’s more a state of being than an outward sign of success. But, if it helps to say you’re a practicing artist, then go for it; I like to say “I play with paint”; anything that helps silence the Inner Critic so your soul can shine through. Have fun and enjoy the process!