1. California Oak Trees

Today, my little Meetup group went to a local place, the trail by the Chumash Museum nearby my house.  (The Chumash are a California tribe.)  We were there for about an hour.  I began with a pencil sketch, and then, color.  We were settled in a small oak grove, with dark and light contrast about as contrasty as you can get.  At the end of the hour, this is what I had painted, knowing full well I would look at it and work it a bit once home.

Once home, I looked at the painting.  Still a need for contrast, and a bit more detail.  More pen, more ink brush, more colors, and some warmth.

Overall, the one above came out okay, but if you look on the mid-right, to the left of the furthest trunk, there is a bit of an odd space, so I went in and worked it a bit with ink to try to mitigate it.  I found it very distracting.  Here is the final image below.

The area has a few more lines in it, a bit busier, but somehow more in keeping with similar areas of the painting.

I used Koi watercolor brushes and the following paints:  Quinacridone Gold, Naples Yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine Blue, Indanthrene Blue, Phthalo Green, and Burnt Sienna.  I used a Stillman & Birn Beta Series 8×10 inch softcover notebook, and scanned the images using my trusty, not rusty, Epson V600.  Ink is Carbon Ink, and an ink brush.

Disappointment & Enlightenment

Disappointment:  The meetup experience did not go well.

Being interrupted and being told “you are wrong,” in no uncertain terms by an old geezer, and then being attacked by the group leader for telling the geezer to let me finish talking and stop interrupting, is wrong.

Further in the session, the geezer told someone “those are the rules” without clarification.  What rules?  How to put a sentence together?  What do you mean?  Explain, please.

My initial impression of the moderator was not impressive – he felt needy and off-balance somehow.

Facing the geezer, my first thought was here is a man used to being in power and control, who feels it is okay to interrupt others.

Rudeness and ego-centrism do not have a place in a group such as this.  Other groups I have been in have not had these elements from either members or the moderator.

I am sad, too, as I had looked forward to becoming part of a community of writers.  The other members of the group were good, and there was some talented writing.

Enlightenment:  While disappointed by this experience, it also served to make very clear to me something which had been rumbling around in my head for some time:  Scheduling things to do on my days off does not always work in my favor.

Each time I schedule something that needs some work – such as a writing meetup – it means a lot of focus on that event.  If it becomes something that takes up a lot of time and energy without reward, ultimately I am exhausted.  As an introvert, quiet time with self-reflection and thought is a necessity for self-renewal.

Scheduling time with people I value, doing things I enjoy, is a completely different thing.  I come away refreshed and joyful.

I knew this before the meetup.  I know this now even better than before.  My choices are very clear.

 

Ramping Up

Moving from the idea of putting in a lot of time painting to writing was a big, important psychological and creative shift.  Choosing words over color was pragmatic:  I do not have time to paint.  I do have time to write.  I can write early in the morning, at work, outdoors on the patio, at the library, or sitting on a bench in the park.  In short, I can write just about anywhere.  Painting, not so.  But I can sketch.

This morning, I am going to my first of (I hope) many meetups with a local group of writers.  We were sent stories and excerpts to read and to critique – what works, what doesn’t work – with the admonition to do more than say, “I like this!” or “This sucks!” Giving reasons for a like / dislike helps the writer, but it also helps the critic get in touch with his own writing.

Of course, we all have our preferences for reading matter, but reading things which are not to our liking is no reason to push it aside.  My own prejudices have steered me away from otherwise good literature . . . just because I was told “You will like it!” or, worse, “You should read it!  It’s a classic!”

I hate being told what I should like, should believe, and should do in any form.  It’s the word should that makes me say “No!” immediately.

And sometimes, I am wrong.  Thinking about what makes something work creates a different mindset in the reading altogether.  I’ve learned something prior to even getting to the first meeting!