To paint a thing, I have to see it with innocent eyes; eyes like a baby. No labels, no bias, no preconceived notions, no judgements, no preferences. I can't paint a tree, I have to paint a combination of shapes and assign value and color to them. I'm creating an illusion of a tree, not a tree.
I can't paint an apple, I can only paint a shape that takes on a particular contour and has an overall value and an overall color. It might sit in the light in a certain way and I really can't even make a judgment about the light either. I have to take all notions and language out of the process. I have to see the thing as though I've never seen anything like it ever before.
And I have to be enchanted by this interaction! Otherwise, why would I paint it?
As we move through our everyday lives, we seldom let ourselves look through an unfiltered view of things. We filter everything we see, do and say through a lens of past experience and what we think we know. We often look through a lens of fear and insecurity that holds us back from seeing things as they truly are.
As painters this can make us muddled and confused. We think we have to paint in a certain way and then we tend to make rules of thumb into RULES. Taking too many workshops or listening too intently to the thousand voices telling us how to paint, can keep us from listening to our own true voice as a painter. We make hay with the “shoulds” and the “nevers” and push away the “What if's”.
At one point or another one must try to see clearly and then be brave. There are many, many things that are much scarier than painting. There are many things worse than wasting an expensive piece of paper or canvas. What is very scary is to go through ones life as an artist and never have put down an authentic mark; your own mark.