Vinalhaven Reversing Falls 24"x30" oil on canvas
Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and color, peace and hope, will keep them company. - Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill starting painting as a distraction from his duties as Prime Minister. He believed that change is what’s important to avoid worry and mental strain, and recommended that we pursue two or three hobbies to create this change. His preference was for hobbies that use both hand and eye, as well as our brains. He found that painting fit the bill.
In his charming little book, Painting as a Pastime, Churchill listed the benefits he found from leaning to paint. They resonated with me! I'll illustrate them below with paintings from my first years with oil paints.
Green Ledge, Vinalhaven 15"x30" oil on canvas
Churchill says that painting gives us a heightened sense of observation, especially of nature. The first way this hit me, was in observing the landscape in different light situations. I had not before realized that as we look into the sun, we lose our color perception. Try this yourself. It’s easy to observe as you are driving. When you're looking into the sun, the scene before you is almost black and white, while when the sun is to the side of back of you, the colors show brilliantly.
He also points out that painting helps us to appreciate masterpieces of art in a new way. This is true not only of masterpieces, but any fine work of art. As an student of art you become more knowledgeable and interested in how the work of art was created, and what makes it a masterpiece. And you can appreciate the skill even if you are still working towards it.
Laudholm Fields 13"x16" oil on canvas
Churchill says painting helps us develop an accurate and retentive memory. Who doesn’t want this benefit, especially those of us who have to wait a beat for our brains to return the information we are requesting? You may not be able to take a look at something, and then turn your back and paint it from memory, but you will start to go down that path. I'm up for improving my memory!
He says painting is a spur to travel. For me this has been one of the key benefits of learning to paint. I have created trips that were centered around painting in a particular location, and been on many others where painting in this new place was a wonderful addition to my travel activities. It made the trip more fun and created tangible memories in paint that are far better than postcards.
Apples oil on canvas 6"x6"
And most important of all, Churchill says that learning to paint is a way to make new friends. This has been the biggest benefit for me in learning to paint. Most of the friends I’ve made in my life have been from people I went to school with, worked with, or people I met because I paint. I’ve met some of my best friends in art organizations, at painting classes I took, at galleries where I show my work, and as students who take my painting classes. This is especially important after retirement when there are no more new work friends to make, or when you move to a new area and don’t know anyone there.
In my next blog post, I’ll talk about several popular painting mediums that will be of interest whether you're thinking about learning to paint, or in furthering your appreciation of the artwork being made today.
Bobbi - Painter. Sketcher. Teacher. Boat and Dog Lover.