Collaborative Painting and Letting Go

I have a friend who I paint with pretty regularly. He’s a very good painter, but considers himself an amateur.

I have a friend who I paint with pretty regularly. He’s a very good painter, but considers himself an amateur. I personally think his work is of high quality and if he so chose, could be selling his work. He brings a ton of energy into his brushwork and has a great color sense. He might argue otherwise, but he’s not writing this blog, so he doesn’t get to say!

We painted together on Saturday. Well he painted and I packed and prepared for my upcoming workshop trip to Nova Scotia and dabbled at my painting. I think at one point Dick started to lose interest or get a little frustrated in his piece then started to make some pretty bold moves to make dramatic changes. Sometimes a great tactic, other times great folly. Well, it worked out for him. He was scraping and scratching, then looked at me and with a brush in his outstretched hand said something like “here, you want to work on it?” This is not something I ordinarily do with students, but he’s not currently, officially my student, so I grabbed the brush from him. I expected him to move away from the easel and put down his brush and let me have at it. Instead, he stayed there, working on it with another brush, and I must have commented with a remark, like “we’re both going to paint on it at the same time?”. That was clearly his intention. OK, I stuck with that for a little bit, before I elbowed him out, and made the moves that I was invited to make. I was maybe a little adamant. It’s not like I did that much really, he had everything working and very established. I just finessed some color transitions and some edges.

Dick Eaton & Marla Baggetta

This taught me quite a lot. I very much like the spontaneity and energy that Dick brings to his work. I tend to leave that for my pastels and don’t bring as much of that to my oil paintings as I’d like. This was encouraging for me in that way.

I also think it’s a great lesson in getting ones ego out of the way of the work. You have to let go and not be attached to the outcome of a piece, any piece. Letting someone else work on your painting gets you there pretty quick! It’s so interesting how readily we will make a change to another persons work but will be very reticent to do so on our own, even when we know it’s appropriate! I may incorporate this as an exercise in some of my workshops!


One Response

  1. That's a great story, thanks for sharing. As for the workshop, how a about a musical chairs approach? Everyone works on a painting for five minutes and then shifts to the left, none of the paintings are yours but all of them are. Probably be a total disaster, but there might be some fun in it.

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