What It’s Like When You Like What You Paint

Painting by Karen Sperling.

There comes a point during every Artistry Retreat–my Corel Painter workshop where I show professional and hobbyist photographers how to turn their photos into paintings–when the photographers start to paint. Up until then, they’ve learned the art concepts behind painting and they’ve seen some of Painter’s tools and brushes. They’ve also witnessed some basic instruction from me, and then it’s their turn to start putting it all together for their own painting. More often than not, these first baby steps toward painting are accompanied by feelings of dread, insecurity and despair because these initial efforts seem to be lacking in artistic merit.
The operative word is “seem.” In fact, just about all the photographers who study with me do a fantastic job with their beginning painting attempts, producing excellent interim images that will eventually turn into great paintings.
More often than not, when I encourage photographers this way in the Corel Painter class, the response is usually skepticism, but I speak from experience.
Although I’ve been writing about Painter for the past 20 years, it’s only in the past 10 years that I’ve been painting and writing about my own art for tutorials and teaching from my own art in classes. And I remember very well because it isn’t that long ago what it was like to feel like my early attempts at painting were best left in the computer.
The painting at the top of this page is my latest painting and one of my best ever. The client used the words “stunning” and “spectacular” when she saw it.
I wasn’t surprised that she liked it because I knew it was good. I base this bold statement on the simple fact that to paint it, I followed the art concepts that I write about in all my tutorials and teach in all of my classes. I also used all the brushes and techniques that I write about in my tutorials and teach in my classes.
I also knew there is no accounting for taste, and although I knew the painting was good, after I sent it to the client, I also braced myself for the possibility that she wouldn’t like it, just because it happens, but she loved it and what a great feeling.
I titled this blog what it’s like when you like what you paint because I am thinking about all the photographers who are plagued by doubts when they paint, some so much so that they find it more comfortable to just not paint at all. I’m here to tell you that you get over those feelings. The more you paint, the better you get and the better the paintings come out. I gave up on drawing and painting many times in my life and it feels good that this time I kept going so that I can create the painting you see on this page.
I love the process of painting, even though it’s not always easy or comfortable. Sometimes it feels as annoying as fingernails on a blackboard, but other times, when things are going well, it feels as nice as anything you enjoy doing.
What is it like when you like what you paint?
It’s bliss.

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