Painting from Within, a Robert Weatherford Class

Robert Weatherford's Flowers 1

Robert Weatherford's Flowers 1

The Ahhaa School for the Arts in Telluride, Colorado should not call this class “Painting from Within”. They should call it, “Painting your Best Crap”. I joke, the class is enormously difficult for me, but that’s why I took it.

Robert Weatherford is an accomplished lifetime painter, residing in Telluride, and showing in the Telluride Gallery. Robert believes that what makes a painting speak to the painter as well as the viewer is honesty—hence they become paintings from the soul, not the intellect.

The class is all about expressing what’s inside: students create a different painting each night, focusing on an emotion, a story, an authentic feeling – not technique, no thinking.

Each night I plan out my composition more meticulously than most, and begin brushing on acrylic, a medium I am not so comfortable with. (Which adds to the challenge). It starts off fun and then time after time I hit a wall: I could make this look pretty, as my 18 years of graphic design work has trained me, or I could let that planning go, and paint from within, from my soul, my spirit, my emotion.

What happens is a cluster*!#$%! of paint, drippings, wipings and frustration. As one student commented: “Each night you quickly get a full painting on canvas, then I watch you deconstruct it, then repaint it with great emotion”. I took that as a complement.

All the while, Robert inspires us with his incredibly raw and honest truths, Robertisms, which are uplifting. He makes his rounds from student to student, and no one can do wrong. Because each student is painting something about who they are, and that’s what matters in this class. He is incredibly inspiring.

Upon review at the end of each night, personal topics come up as each person shares their painting and the story or emotion it came from.  I’m totally blown away with the personal stories that were shared last night, and the courage it took each person to confront those on canvas, and then share them with a room full of so-called strangers.

In short, Robert is pushing me to a place I am very uncomfortable with, and I thank him greatly. I am here to be pushed, to be uncomfortable, to break out of lifetime boundaries and familiarities, and to discover what I am really capable of.

“Get more raw.” He advised me, “Scream louder”…. I don’t think my painting will ever be the same.

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