So much of our painting experience is done in isolation. We work alone, lost in our thoughts, one-on-one with our subject and surface. This provides the undistracted focus most of us need. Our studios become private places that others are only welcome to visit upon invitation. When working on location we avoid the intrusion of passersby, often wearing headphones to avoid interruption. But as nice as it is to work unencumbered by the outside world, it is also rewarding to share the experience with someone that understands the process, someone that belongs to the same tribe—a painting buddy.
Sharing our painting adventures with another artist has its benefits. By planning to work together, we know someone else is relying on us. It is a commitment, forcing us to show up and paint instead of letting life’s little distractions get in the way. Seeing how others interpret a scene helps guide us in our own choices. We get valuable feedback and the shared experience of having worked in the same environment. Isn’t it more rewarding to share a sunset with someone than to admire it alone? So too is the painting experience. After working the better part of a day on a painting, receiving the feedback and observations of someone else is a pleasure. The validation derived from sharing these experiences helps to strengthen us as artists. As a friend once said, “ We often wonder if anyone else hears the mermaid singing?” Since nothing is created in a vacuum, it is always more rewarding to laugh and cry together. The shared camaraderie of the experience fulfills our need to connect, providing motivation, validation, and sound guidance along the way.
I have been fortunate to have a few close painting buddies in my life, friends that have shared the experience of painting with all the rewards and setbacks involved. Sadly, I have lost such a buddy and the pastel community has lost a giant. Glenna Hartmann left us on Sunday, the 25th of May. Glenna was a plein air painter in the truest sense and a dear friend. She shared her beautiful home territory of Santa Barbara, California, with me. It is a region she loved and painted with beauty and passion. I was able to introduce her to my favorite—the Central Oregon Cascade mountain range. Getting to share these locations was a pleasure and something I will always treasure. The evenings spent talking art and just sharing a laugh only added to the experience. Her sensitive and beautiful tonal painting quality has left its graceful mark. The pastel world will now be a lonelier place.