I Stand for Art
“It’s easy to stand with the crowd. It takes courage to stand alone.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi
Some people sit, but I prefer to stand to paint.
I recently read a treatise about art by Sir Winston Churchill. Did you know that in his later years he discovered a love for painting as a pastime? I have always admired what he accomplished during World War II. I am fascinated by the complexity of his mind and personality. And, I love that he loved painting! He said:
“Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen. They pass out into shadow and darkness. All one's mental light, such as it is, becomes concentrated on the task. Time stands respectfully aside, and it is only after many hesitations that luncheon knocks gruffly at the door. When I have had to stand up on parade, or even, I regret to say, in church, for half an hour at a time, I have always felt that the erect position is not natural to man, has only been painfully acquired, and is only with fatigue and difficulty maintained. But no one who is fond of painting finds the slightest inconvenience, as long as the interest holds, in standing to paint for three or four hours at a stretch.”
(From Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill) You can read the whole essay for free HERE (it’s not too long, I promise).
A lot of what he said resonates with me and my experience with art. And, as he said, when you are painting, you don’t feel any of the discomfort of standing for long periods of time. When I first started out, I would sit in class to paint. It didn’t take me too long to realize, however, that I find standing to paint much more natural and comfortable. I put a soft cushioned floor mat down in front of my easel to help protect my back and knees, but I don’t even notice any fatigue or discomfort when I’m there.
There are a few reasons I think standing is better:
Sitting down close to a large canvas can give you a distorted sense of proportion. This also happens on a smaller scale: if you draw something on a piece of paper viewing it from an angle too far away from 90 degrees, it’s quite common to end up with a finished piece that looks a little stretched when viewed straight-on.
Standing allows you to have a greater range of motion. You can bend your knees to paint lower on the canvas, get on your toes to paint higher, shift your weight and step to reach more to the sides. Also, such motion is useful for painting broad strokes.
Standing allows you to easily take a step back away from the painting to get a more holistic view of it from time to time. Like most painters, I spend more time looking and assessing the progress of the work more than actually physically painting it. I make a few strokes, stop, move away to gain an overall perspective and make decisions on what “that move” did. Then do it all again until the painting is done. There is a constant checking in from working on a painting a couple feet away, to seeing what it would look like to a viewer (who will observe it from further away.)
Standing to paint rarely means standing still for me. I back up and look at the painting, come forward again and then do that over and over… I usually have music playing while I paint which often means that I will be bopping and dancing along to the music between brush strokes too! good practice piece that will never go beyond that.
That’s it for today. I’m off to enjoy more of the beauty of spring and to my studio to do some more painting!
Until next time,
I will be participating again this year in the Annual Ag+Art Tour. It was cancelled due to COVID in 2020, but is picking back up again this summer.
I will be at two locations for this year’s event:
June 5 and 6 will find me in Lexington County at the Fire Barrel Farm at 306 George Derrick Road Swansea, SC 29160. June 5 10am-4pm and June 6 1-5pm
“We are a Dairy Goat Farm we have Fresh Raw goat milk available. Call for a farm tour, we also offer soap making, gardening 101, canning 101, cheese making classes and vegetables as they come in season. Come out and see us and milk a goat.”
Fire Barrel Farm also offers Goat Yoga!
June 12 and 13 will find me in Richland County at the One Hubcap Farm on June 12, 10am-4pm and June 13, 1-5pm
1236 Muller Road
Blythewood, SC 29016
One Hubcap Farm offers pastured pork, poultry, and seasonal vegetables.
I understand they have some pretty flowers too!
Please help me share my art with more people!
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You can always see more at BTeusinkArt.com