In Your Corner

A boxer, being pummeled mercilessly, hears the bell and stumbles to his corner. As he flops down, exhausted, trying to find the energy to go back out in the ring again, he hears cheering through the ringing in his ears. Those cheers motivate him to continue the battle.

When I was first challenging myself to move from watercolour to acrylic, learning the new techniques necessary for success, I spent money I couldn't afford to attend a workshop. The instructor was not only a personal artistic hero of mine, but his knowledge was (and is!) exemplary.

We were given the opportunity to have our work critiqued, so despite butterflies hammering in my stomach, I brought paintings and had a small stack of them on my table. I heard the words, "Just remember: NEVER paint at the very edge of the canvas, NEVER paint a man-made object near the edge and NEVER, EVER paint it white."

Oh dear, oh dear!!! The painting on the top of the stack was ALL of those things! I had attempted to capture a moment in history: a town in Quebec that thrived in the 1800s with woolen mills built two Churches that faced each other on the main road. I painted the scene with only the first Church, surrounded by an autumnal forest. Here is the painting: 

Now, I had the option of selecting another piece to be critiqued, but the only way to become a better artist is to learn at every opportunity. Sigh. So, I grabbed it and put it on the easel at the front of the room.
The instructor pursed his lips before announcing, "See?! That's exactly what NOT to do!"
There was a rustling at the back of the room; another artist with whom I had attended courses jumped out of her chair and came to the front to stand beside the easel. She angrily glared at the instructor while suggesting other ways to frame it so the "mistakes" wouldn't be as obvious.
He shrugged, folded his arms across his chest and said, "It's still a terrible painting."
The artist who stood by my side gave me an intense look that said, "You took paint, plopped a brush in it and produced ART. It's YOURS no matter what he says. Don't be hurt, don't give up."
I had someone in MY corner. It gave me strength that my fellow artist stood with me, being my cheering section while my cheeks burned. 
A few years later, the same instructor looked at a small canvas on my easel, shoved me with his elbow and said, "Now...look at this! That's a good little painting!" Here's the one that he liked: 
In the end, it's my brushes producing the work, so it has to be me that decides if it's a good piece or not; but no matter what, I try not to use the word, "terrible." Ever.
Thank you for spending this time with me,
Lori   xx

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