Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mustard and Icecream

Knowing When to Stop

Princess Geisha, Acrylic and Lacquer
Sometimes making art is like adding mustard to ice cream.  Just because you can put mustard on top of your ice cream it doesn't mean you should.   It just is not a good combination, and it will never be a good painting.  The key is knowing when it is working and when it is not or will not work.

I was looking and liking this painting last night and although it is very simple, I think that I stopped at the right moment for this particular work.  This is one of the most difficult things for an artist is to know when to stop.  I think that this is something that we continue to develop that is very difficult to do.  The biggest problem for painters in my classes is they work on pieces that looked great, then awful, because they did not stop soon enough.

Dancing in the Moonlight, Acrylic, Lacquer and Colored Pencil

Sometimes it is easy for me to know when to stop.  The paint looks beautiful, my eye is moving across the work, their is contrast between paint and idea, and it leaves room for the viewer to fill in what they see with their own ideas.  Sometimes it is not so easy.

The Sorceress, Acrylic and Lacquer

When this happens I work and work and it never seems to be just right.  I can keep going, and at times it will turn out or is not quiet as good as those who come together easily.  Sometimes it is trashed  or recycled into collage materials for the next artwork.

Dance of Life, Acrylic, Lacquer and Colored Pencil

I wonder if it is this uncertainty is what draws me to abstraction.  Life is unpredictable.  There are good times, great times, bad times and worse times.  Like in art, some days just need to hit the scrap pile.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could start these times over like we can in a painting?

Spanish Dancer, Acrylic, Acrylic mediums and Lacquer

My favorite idea (it must be a favorite because I repeat it to students so often) came from my first watercolor teacher who said, " Your first 100 watercolors will be trash, so expect it as you learn to paint for the paintings to not be good."  More realistically, or perhaps more accurately.  The more you paint the better you will become.  For me, it took more than 100 paintings, but a lot of years for my paintings to start to be what I want them to be.  It is still not a sure thing.

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