Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Persistense-Keeping dogs around
Ken Backhaus,a member of the Plein Air Painter of America. once told me to keep my bad paintings around, I will learn more. The painting top left is one that sat around in my studio over a year. There was a third boat in the middle, making it cluttered and the sky was the same tone as the boats-hence they got lost. In other words, the painting had a lot of problems. Successful art may mean working out a bad design. I am not sure why it took so long but it turns out to be one of my favorite paintings. After I eliminated the middle boat and lightened up the sky-bam, it worked. Everything fell into place. The advice for this column is that if you did a painting that isn't quite right, keep it around for a while, maybe you can work out the kinks.
Of course, you can ask friends or a teacher how to improve it but sleep on it, ask yourself what it needs;play around with some paint telling yourself no big deal, if it doesn't work, you can wipe it off and start all over again. That is the luxury of oil paints compared to watercolor which is a do or die thing. The second part of the lesson is persistence; if something isn't quite right, hang in there, maybe you can salvage it as I did. If you don't succeed at first, try try again. I knew the statement I wanted to make but I wasn't doing it then I started to ask myself, "what can I so away with?" What do I love the most? I knew I liked the lower right boat very much. The upper left one had the figure, so I wanted that. Thus, the middle one was gone.Then came the light in the sky, everything began to pop and that was what I was looking for. I can analyze why this painting works but I want to address the intangible-feeling, that a painting may have something you can't put a finger on. One of my dead mentors was Sergei Bongart. I heard one of his students tell me the story when he was shown a very technically correct painting and compared it to a not very good one and he liked the later better. My friend asked why, he said cause the second one has feeling. This is why the Russian impressionists are my favorite--there is passion and feeling in their work. Is strive for this and I invite you to do the same-your work will improve and connect with other people more.
Perhaps that isn't something you thought of before. Lot of people who like my work say it speaks to them, has bright colors. Hopefully it has feeling in it too. Anyway, ask yourself what you feel upon looking upon a painting. If you are reading this blog, you like my work for some reason. I try to put mood or feeling in my work, making it alive.