Samuel Gray Art


Behind the scenes process of my work, recaps of my live painting shows, and stories that I find valuable

Ready to Adapt

Ready to Adapt

It’s hard for everyone

If you aren't planning for it. I was asked last week to go paint at a conference in DC that i had been planning for. I didn’t know I was going to be asked to do something like this until a few months before which left me little time to figure out what I was going to paint and how to transport a 4x4 ft. painting on a plane.

I was called to adapt. This conference was a fundraiser for 99balloons which is a non-profit that helps bring awareness and support to families that have children with special needs. The whole purpose of this trip was to build relationships with people that had ties with Arkansas in DC. That included house of representatives in congress as well as other important people am supposed to know of. It was a great experience for me and allowed me help an organization tell their story.

Be ready for any situation

If i had not been practicing for the live painting I was asked to do at this fundraiser then it would have been so much more stressful. I was ready because I paint live in front of people every week at Mama Carmen’s. I had already spent enough time to know what I needed and how to get the job done. All I had to really adapt to was figuring out the audience I was painting for and how to get everything I needed to DC.

Be a passionate failure

Too many times have I taken odd jobs that I wasn’t ready for. I had not been practicing and I gave false promises to how long the project was going to take me and what I was going to deliver. I realized that means I need to hone down my focus on what I am willing to say yes to. That also means that I wasn’t passionate enough in the type of work I was doing. 

Learning to adapt requires you to be a passionate failure.

Practicing is the key to being able to adapt

You can’t practice and prepare for everything. Pick one or two things and begin showing up every week producing something. If you can make something every day, do that. I show up every week and paint a live painting regardless if someone else is ready for it. My long term mindset with live painting is to bring the experience anywhere to people. This was my chance to make that a reality.

Knowing your stuff

I realized that bringing a canvas on the plane was going to be difficult as well as having to borrow an easel to setup at the event. However, I have had experience in using linoleum flooring that can be rolled up and transported in a tube. I did some research and saw that having a tube carry on can fit on a plane. I also looked up that I could bring all of my brushes and acrylic paints in my check in bag.

An important thing about linoleum is that it needs to be taped up on a wall or flat surface. I usually use painters tape and through experience I have learned that it doesn’t stick well to curtain surfaces. If there is no tooth on the wall then the canvas will just fall over in the middle of my painting. That would be so bad! I can just picture having the canvas up and I have to complete this painting in an hour and everyone is watching me and to have it fall over would be a nightmare for me. That is why I asked to have pictures of the space before I left and asked for permission to put the piece on the giant windows they had. They, as in Microsoft, wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to get any paint in the space. I know exactly how much of the paint drips down and where it goes when I do paintings like that so I took measures in bringing enough paper rolls and plastic sheets to framed off the work area.


What are your limitations?

The only way you are going to know your limitations is learning from your mistakes. I had already experienced not being able to finish a piece in time because I didn’t know the concept before hand. The canvas has already fallen over because I didn’t have the right tape or didn’t know what surface I was taping it on. I didn’t have a concept drawn up and what color palette I was going to use. There weren’t small enough brushes to do details in the painting when I really needed to put those finishing touches. All of these things we learn by just doing it. A lot.

Yes or No?

I have learned that it’s better to just say yes to those big opportunities. I don’t want to limit myself from failing. You are going to fail. Being ready to adapt requires risk and you can’t adapt if you don’t keep trying.

I hope that you keep pushing forward in whatever you are passionate about. Doing it now will put you in a place to do it anywhere.

Samuel GrayComment