Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Work of Art

   Recently a few friends and I were discussing the reasons each of us 'make art'. No matter the medium, or the skill level, or the degree the art-making influenced their daily life, everyone agreed that actually creating a painting (for example) entailed effort and skills that were impossible to imagine for someone who had never done such a thing.
   It became clear to me long ago that those artists that I knew personally, and who were doing work that I could only aspire to being able to do and were even supporting their families with their creations, all struggled daily with the same types of problems. They constantly work on one aspect or another of the skills needed, whether it is self discipline or the ability to mix the correct color, or getting the perspective right, or countless other questions.

Miller Denver Saddle 1937 - graphite on paper
   The Painter's Keys is one of the most popular artist blogs. After Robert Genn died, his daughter kept the blog going, and often reposts Robert's past entries. This one from 2002 illustrates a spectrum of artists struggling with their work, and was both amusing and enlightening. levels-of-achievement gives a quick glimpse of artists at work. Of course there are many other ways artists get things done, and many ways they approach their work.
   I do not make my living painting and so do not have those pressures that add to a day's work. I do always have something I try to learn and some skills I make efforts to improve.  I certainly spend more time struggling with getting something to look and feel the way I intend and not so much time blithely spreading paint around a canvas. Actually, that never happens!
   Here are a few quotes from The Painter's Keys Quote Page about painting:

   People think you can get out your canvas and paint any time you have a free moment. You can't. Commercial art and painting are entirely different. Painting takes a different mental approach. You have to get the right attitude, the right mood. (Pierre Alechinsky)

Painting should educate and enrich. Modern painting merely offers a split-second emotion: You see it, you have an instant reaction and move on. Instead, real painting can be looked at over and over again and each time it has something new. (Igor Babailov)

Goose Eggs With Brass Bowl and Gold Light - oil on panel
Painting requires the bravery of solitude. Painting requires disciplined labor. To be a painter is to search the world with a benevolent eye for every subtle beauty that the infinite world offers. (Charles Philip Brooks)

Painting is easy, getting it right is the hard bit. (Danny Byrne)

  If it isn't challenging it probably isn't much fun either. If you've got a craft or art or passion to do something, now is the time! Join the man on the street wrestling with his easel and paint, or me, working through the next question about value or color; you might find great rewards hidden among the challenges.


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