Learning is Living
Learning is living and since I’m still alive at 75, I’m still taking classes and workshops. I continue to grow in both technical skills and in mental comprehension constantly. Hubby Dave says that sharks have to keep moving or they die. Guess I’m a shark.
The hunger to learn is something I remember as a kid growing up in a non-intellectual family. Always the odd person out, nose in the book, tackling projects foreign to my foreign born parents. My drive was inexplicable to them and completely normal to me as water is to a fish.
Looking back on just the last few years there’s been an interesting assortment of topics. Two years studying digital painting with an artist in Louisiana which is interesting since I’ve been painting on electronic paint systems since 1986, well before he discovered the medium. But he had a different approach than I did so I learned quite a bit. I also learned more about southern culture during the workshops he held on a southern plantation. Hope he learned to appreciate some of my yankeeness too.
The next two years were spent learning about how to run my art business efficiently. We studied, websites, social media, marketing, blogging (like this and my garden blog), exhibitions, galleries, pricing strategies, wholesaling, licensing, retail and more. Traveling and meeting other artists who came from around the world to attend the MasterMind workshops was stimulating to say the least. For over 6 years I have continued to meet with some of these other working artists whom I met through this program. It’s so important to have people in your life who speak the same jargon as you do. I treasure these friends.
During Covid, I took two online workshops. One was on story writing and the other on being a creative person. These intensive programs had me sitting down and thinking, which was perfect during the isolation. They pushed me to question what I’m doing with my art and why.
What is the real meaning of the work I create? Where do my influences come from and do I have a point of view? How has it changed, where might it go? What other artists do I feel a connection with? A rhyming of thought? A riff on technique?
Last year I took another workshop, this time one focused on painting in abstract realism as a way to counteract the botanical illustration up close and detail work that I’d studied and worked in for years. It was a real challenge for me to splash paint, spread it with trowels, and get my hands and clothes covered in the bright colors I’m drawn to. It turned out to be very freeing and helped me transition into a new phase of my work.
What I’m learning is that I’m relearning. Revisiting some of the lessons I took over the last many years but this time with a lifetime of experience. Some of these experiences were good, others bad, and others horrid but all of them are what made me who I am today. My goals are different. My processes have changed. In some ways, I’m more open and in others more hyper-focused.
Maybe that’s the thread of my learning. I’m open to change. I studied digital painting although I’d been using that medium for decades already and I learned new processes that I hadn’t explored. I studied marketing after I’d spent a career in sales and marketing for business and expanded my ability to communicate with my audience. I study writing and creativity even though I’ve been writing and creating for most of my life. This practice continues to help me evolve and explore new ideas and thoughts hovering deep inside of me. And now I’m again studying painting which I began my studies with so many decades ago and my work is evolving in a way I never would have expected.
In each of these endeavors, I learned so much and reminded myself of lessons I’d forgotten or seen in another light. Learning is living for me. So maybe I am that shark that needs to keep moving through the water in order stay alive. Lucky me!
Very interesting and inspiring, Mary! I really enjoyed learning more about you and your journey as an artist.