My collectors often ask how I see the colors that I paint. So while I was visiting Bob Proctor to paint his garden I offered to introduce him and his family to the way that that I see color. I sat with Linda Proctor and her grand daughter, who was armed with a new box of colored pencils and paper. With a white egg on a piece of white paper in front of them, I asked them to relax and tell me all of the colors that they were seeing. They blinked their eyes and gave me blank stares. When I prompted them further they said that they saw a white egg on white paper with a grey shadow. Wrong answer. I asked them to just consider that fact that we could not just be seeing white because we are perceiving forms and shadows of the egg on the paper. The colors of the shadows where not gray or it would be like looking at a black and white photo. Grey does not exist in the natural color spectrum. White is just how our left-brain classifies white paper and white egg. Then once classified we stop seeing. They were thinking, not seeing. The key to seeing is to relax and to feel into it. In fact, the natural spectrum of light, the rainbow, was vibrating at different frequencies all over the paper and all over the egg. Our right brain can perceive these colors. These colors formed our perception of a white egg on white paper. What colors were there? By simply relaxing, and trusting their perception, the layers of colors reflecting and bouncing in space began to reveal themselves. Their interest peaked as they began to see the essence of color. Although Bob did not have time to draw eggs that day he did wonder back and forth as we worked. At dinner that evening he very astutely remarked, “Ann, I know how you see the colors you paint. You simply relax and let yourself see them.” He stated it perfectly. I have learned to relax and savor the colors in each moment, see my previous blog. He also gave me some business advice. “Your paintings are spectacular. But if there was a way to offer your collectors the experience of seeing color, as you showed us, and the opportunity to get to know you. Now, that is something you could charge anything you want for. And there are many people like me who have gardens that they treasure.” Bob had taken great pleasure in watching his painting evolve from a walk in the garden, to a sketch on a canvas, to a finished oil painting. It was a unique and memorable experience. My reaction was, inside voice, “You’re right, but how the heck am I going to do that, Bob?” Now the universe works in interesting ways to answer our questions. Before I had left for Canada, Valerie at First Republic Bank asked if I would like to feature my paintings at a lavish event for their private banking clients. Once I returned she asked if I would be willing to do a demonstration painting during the event. I was a little reluctant, but I said yes. Then she confessed that she is always searching for new ways to provide unique and memorable experiences for their guests, who have often done everything. Would I consider teaching their guests how to see color by creating a collaborative painting during the event? Now before I visited with Bob that would have sounded crazy, but Bob’s business advice popped into my head and I knew that the path of “how the heck am I going to do that” had just revealed itself. How many can say that they have experienced creating an original oil painting with a nationally acclaimed artist? Not many. I could help people host an event of a lifetime. Guests could paint alongside me, while I guided them in a welcoming and approachable way. Kind of like a cooking class. Guests who painted, or those who just watched, are introduced to a unique understanding of color and light. Once they are done with their part they sign the back of the painting. Of course I must get paid, so while the painting itself is being completed, the guests may acquire the piece through a silent bidding process. And the host and the guests have the option collecting mementos, or thank you gifts, that feature the very same painting created at the event, including: note cards, prints, and crystal paperweights. As long as the bid on the painting exceeds my teaching fee, there is no cost to host me beyond the art supplies. A win-win scenario that is beginning to really take off. I hear a lot of self critical comments from guests during the events that I have done so far. “I can’t do that.” “I will ruin it.” “I am scared.” But I assure them. There are no mistakes.” “Oil paint is very forgiving.” “We can always make changes.” “I will help you.” “Don’t worry.” “It’s fun, just give it try.” “When will you be able to do this again?” I love working with the people who often have not painted since kindergarten, but have the courage try. They immerse themselves in the canvas. They savor the moment. They love it.
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- Ann Rea, art and wine events, Bob Proctor, Collector's Journal, performance art, Wayne Thiebaud