“Approach everything as an experiment, not a masterpiece.” That’s my younger sister Kate’s advice. And she’s taken her own advice over the past seven years as she’s transitioned her career as a landscape architect to that of a pastel painter.
Much of her work is, not surprisingly, about landscape. Her plein air paintings of the vineyards and soggy bottomlands, the fields and hills around her home near Corvallis, Oregon, are a result of many, many hours outdoors, catching a certain light on her subjects.
But recently she gave herself a still-life assignment: paint a weekly bouquet of flowers before they were past their prime. “You have to let yourself give it a try,” she said. “Not all results are successful.” Here are some that worked.
I remember reading in Art and Fear about a pottery instructor who let his students chose how they wanted to be graded: either by their best single pot or by the weight of all the pots they created that semester. It turned out the best pots were thrown by the group who were graded on poundage. You have to create lots of work to get to the good stuff. That’s what Kate is doing.
Most writers I know have had that experience of the gift story – a text that seems to be born whole, dropped into their laps. But I don’t know anyone to whom this has happened who hasn’t been working at writing daily.
Looking ahead, Kate plans to turn her eye and hand to painting architecture, specifically the lumber mills in her part of the world. She expects it might take three weeks of concentrated work before she has anything she feels is successful. Recognizing that makes it easier to get started.
p.s. you can see more of Kate McGee’s work at: http://www.khmland.com/