When I walked into painting class last week, Robert had a surprise for me. He pointed to my easel to which he had taped a 4×6 glossy print. The image was of some unknown landscape full of complex detail that I would never had picked. The simple fact that it was upside down didn’t help either.
He motioned me over and said, “For the next three hours, I want you to paint that. And yes, upside down and no peeking at it the right way”. So, I dutifully did as I was told and thought it looked like junk. I couldn’t make heads or tails as to what I was actually painting. I had a very rough idea but still couldn’t differentiate between the various areas of the image. I knew there was water, rocks and trees. Thats it.
At the end of the class, he walked over for the great reveal, and grabbing the canvas by it’s edges, he rotated it 180 degrees and I was stunned by what I saw. It was amazing to suddenly see a creek with fairly steep banks, sunlit rocks and the interplay of light. By painting it upside down you remove the left side of your brain which says… this is how a tree is supposed to be painted, or water, or anything. It forces you to see shapes, values, and colours and thats all. Robert said he did it for two years and it changed the way he painted forever.
I took the painting home and continued working on it as instructed. It was an eye opener as I had always believed that a subject like that would be too difficult to paint with all the branches etc.
Overall though, I am really pleased with where this ended up.