How I got hit by the ARTS bus?

Someone asked how I got started painting. I’m almost positive I blogged about this before, but I’m posting what I said to my friend because it can’t be said enough. Too many people allow fear of failure to keep them from the joy of doing what they want to do. They let pre-determined pain slap ’em down.

Yes, it be great if we could live out a period in our lives just as Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day where our stumblings and sour notes are immediately forgotten by those around us. Yes, we all wish we could become proficient in a skill overnight, but unfortunately, we can’t. We have to pay for the joy of being good at something, first by being bad. And it’s that fear of badness that paralyzes so many of us.

I’ve spent a life time repressing my desire to paint. I was all caught up in things being good enough. Writing has matured me about this. I now understand that if you work at making something better with patience and joy, it will turn out better than if you spend the same time feeling frustrated and inadequate. I’m just glad I figured this out while I’m still functional!!

I’m almost 60 so time has spurred me on and also helped me let go of “perfectionism.” Better to do and be just okay, than not do and not do jack sh*t.

I decided to start painting in February of this year. Was on jury duty and if you are on jury duty in LA, you can get into the Museum of Contemporary Art for free on your lunch hour. So that’s what I did. There were only about 20% of what I saw that blew me away. The rest seemed either stupid, sloppy, or merely adequate. So I thought, hmmmmm, I can be merely adequate, and I have no expectations of ever being in a museum. So what do I have to lose?

One picture really gave me an emotional jolt. I spent a lot of time in front of it. Turned on in the art sense. My thought, I want to do that. It was abstract and used wire and card board. I like wire. I like cardboard, especially corrugated cardboard, rapidly torn so that it appears half and half…

I went to Michael’s and bought the cheapest stuff, a pack of Liquidex Basics acrylic paint with a 50% off coupon for 16.00, packs of miscellaneous brushes, gesso, and 16×20 canvases at 5.99 each, acrylic craft paint in metal colors, gold, silver, copper, and bronze because the painting I liked had a silver spot just off center that appealed to me. And most importantly, a color wheel because over the years I know about opposites, complements, etc and their importance in both visual arts and written arts.

Well, I went home, went out to the garage, and quite literally, played. And played for hours, days, and now months. I am shocked that people like my art. I paint to make myself happy, mostly experimenting with color and shape and the odd bits I pick up on the streets during my walks.

I hit a bonanza last week-end when visiting a friend who is a carpenter when he gave me carte-blanche to his workshop. It was a treasure hunt, not sure what I’d find as I pulled out each plastic drawer!!! I found some great provocative shapes. Fell in love with washers, bolts, chains, anything rusty, broken, or unfathomible.

My advice to any repressed, perfectionistic, fraidy-cats out there is go to a contemporary museum for inspiration. Start with abstraction. No mistakes can be made. Layer on lots of paint and keep going until just as you’re about to lay on another color in the upper left hand corner, your eye tells you, STOP, this piece is done!!! And then stop and go on to another blank canvas.

9 thoughts on “How I got hit by the ARTS bus?

  1. Jane

    When you first said you got hit by the Arts Bus I thought you were talking about the bus that used to come to Calle Mayor in the summer and we (not you, me and my friends) were signed up to go and make things on summer afternoons. That’s where I learned how to do foil rubbing, and we made a lot of things with sticks, and wood burning. Did you have that when you were a kid? Or was it part of the latter generation?

  2. Gay Degani

    My generation missed out on buses to day camp, parents driving kids anywhere, doing anything at all inside the house during the day, wearing shorts or pants to school, talking back, not going to catechism, not going to Mass, more than one TV, music in your ear that no one else can hear, being able to see a movie whenever and however many times at home…BUT the list for your generation and that of our kids, they missed out on laying in the grass of a neighbor’s yard and watching stars, going out on Halloween with parents, ensconced in their recliners saying, “Be careful and stay within a couple miles of the house.” They missed having to actually figure out how to get along with the neighbor kids because no one was going to take them to visit anyone else. They never get walk to the mall and spend the day …at age 12.

  3. Alexander Burns

    I have a special affinity for painters – one of my old best friends was a painter, and I feel like writing and painting have a lot in common. I have a blog post about that somewhere…< HREF="" REL="nofollow">here it is.<>

  4. Avis HG

    Hi Gayjust dropped by to say thank you for taking a skeg at my blog! (Skeg = North England term for look).I read you stuff on EDF and admire your style.Re Art and stuff – I’ve just finished a 4 day stint painting the halls of my house – does that count?!!!

  5. Gay Degani

    Avis, everything counts. Part of how I learned to paint came from doing different d=treatments on the walls of my house house. Thanks for all your kind comments.


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