Lessons learned the hard way…

Have you ever been somewhere and an idea for a painting exploded into your mind and vision so clearly you felt you could touch the object of that vision? Did you have your trusty pencil and paper with you for those moments? Or did you forget to bring it or decide, ‘nah, I won’t need that during the concert, art show, quick trip to the market?

That has happened to me twice in the last week, and both times I did not have a sketch pad or paper and pencil along with me to record those visions. Fortunately both were so strong that even the next morning I could still see very clearly the subject. What is worse is that my wife even told me I should at least take my sketch book and a pencil with me before we left the house both times. In her own way, she knew what I need to do to best capture those instant subject ideas! Yet as the artist I completely failed to appreciate that critical habit I needed to to develop.

One is not always that fortunate no matter how vivid the idea may seem. I don’t know how many times while away from my studio I have had a passing idea and thought, ‘hmmm, that would make an interesting subject’ or taken a picture of something that caught my eye, and getting home, not being able to figure out why on earth I took that picture.

The lesson learned? I am putting together a travel kit of note paper, pencil, a travel pallet of watercolors, a small set of oil pastels, assorted short handled brushes, art paper and a lightweight portable easel. These will be carried with me no matter where I go, short or long distance away, no matter the event I am intending to attend. Be it the grocery store, a night under the stars at the observatory, the nearest easy to get to art show, or what ever concert my wife and I attend. Starting today there will be no more losing that idea, no matter how small it may seem at the time, forever to go unrecorded and lost. That fleeting subject idea or subject in the photo, will from now on be captured in a quick note or rough sketch at minimum. Depending on where I happen to be at the time, if there is no reason to rush home or to some other event, it may even be a study or tonal value sketch/painting. The main thing is , that no matter the idea, it will be recorded for use in some form for later use in the studio.

What about you as an artist? Do you have a ‘travel kit? Does it contain a good variety of the media types you enjoy using? Is it easily grab at a moments notice for that quick trip to the grocery? If not, Why not? Someday you may find yourself struggling for a subject to produce your art. A period during which you are ‘dry’ of ideas, currently not working on or inspired by that “vision” that blinds you, screaming it has to be done. Or perhaps they can be used as a drill to improve on a certain aspect of mastering your skills of how to bring that small subject matter to finer detail. Or perhaps it will open a door to artistic expression you had always wanted to try, yet did not want to ‘waste’ your supplies on a ‘bad’ idea.

You never know when one of those ‘small’ ideas that were just in passing will provide your next masterpiece. So get those kits together and be prepared to not lose an idea again. Remember, if you didn’t write it down or make a quick sketch, it never happened! What a shame it would be to miss that one fleeting chance at producing your best artwork ever. Are you willing to risk that?