Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Painting Naked
(How painting in Public is Like Being Naked)

"Color", oil, 12" x 9" (sold)



Sorry, No naked photos

Sunday, 10/7/07
I made a personal appearance over at the Outpost (downtown gallery of the Trading Post) to paint for a couple of hours in the store. This is the first time I've done this sort of thing. It's hard to concentrate on painting with a lot of people standing around watching and asking questions. And I'm naturally shy to boot. I used to play in a blues band and often found myself on stage in front of large crowds. I enjoyed it. But I was one of five people on the stage, so I could sort of hide out. But being asked to do a painting demonstration all by myself, in public was like being asked to show up naked.

Needless to say, I had some reservations about how this would work out. But, the Trading Post has been good to me over the years, so I felt I owed it to them to at least try. The only injury I would risk was to my fragile artist's ego. I would not die, except maybe from embarrassment. What the hell.

I got the painting started at home, so it looked like something right from the start. All I had to do was finish it.  I set up with by back to the room, so the painting was facing people as they came in the store. Better yet, I was facing the other way, so I wouldn't continually see folks looking my way. That made it much easier to concentrate on painting, and I actually made good progress. I got some questions and comments, but mostly people just watched. I started to enjoy the experience.

I worked for three hours and nearly finished the painting. The doors were open to welcome visitors, but the day was cool and rainy, so the cold came in as well. Angela (manager of the gallery at the Trading Post) came in with hot cocoa. that helped. But, in the end, I just got too cold and packed it in. The painting turned out pretty well. It's a little looser than most of my work, but a nice little painting.

Years ago, in one of those self awareness training sessions where they won't let you use the bathroom, we explored the idea of expanding our comfort zones (the irony is intended). By doing uncomfortable things, we take them into our experience and make them part of who we are, expanding our comfort zone, making us stronger and more actualized (whatever that means). I don't always do this in uncomfortable situations--and some uncomfortable situations should remain so--but when I do it usually pays off. In this case, it did. I lost my fear (most of it) of painting in public. I'll do it again and enjoy it. But I won't show up naked.

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