Art Alchemy Studio

Mixed Media Art by Chaska Peacock

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lady Orpen's Audacity

Right now I am "in the flow" when it comes to collage. But, the inspiration coupled with ease is not coming to me in my new medium, oil painting. I keep putting it off. I just do not want to stop doing all the other "stuff".
Then I received the following powerful story in Robert Genn's newsletter:

In 1917, during a particularly low period in the fortunes of Winston Churchill, he decided to do something he had been intending to do for years. He purchased a box of oil paints. He picked a nice day, set himself up in his garden, and squeezed out. Then he sat frozen in place for two hours, unable to make a stroke. "My hand," he said, "seemed arrested by a silent veto." With the day waning and in the mood to give up, he heard, on the other side of the hedge, the arrival of a car. It was the painter wife of his friend Sir William Orpen. According to Churchill, Lady Orpen swept into the garden and saw the blank canvas and the plight he was in. She grabbed the brush out of his hand, went for the blue, and within a minute had the sky on the canvas. The spell had been broken. Churchill then and there decided that the thing needed in painting was the same thing that he had applied in politics--audacity.Churchill was right on. Stuff like planning and research and reference and inspiration and time and the right mood aren't worth a farthing compared to audacity. It's through audacity that you commit and begin, and it's through audacity that you find out what you are doing wrong and it's through audacity that you correct it. Audacity allows you to be at ease with your inadequacy, safe in the knowledge that while things may not be perfect, they are at least under way.

Audacity has been my mantra with all my artwork. It has been my message
to students. It's humbling to find myself come to a screeching halt before a pristine white canvas onto which I must put paint.


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