|I see dead things!|
I love golf. I'll admit it: I watch golf on TV. Go ahead and laugh and smugly snicker--I don't care. But half of golf's too short twelve month long season is played when there is still plenty of snow on the ground here in Maine. Where else but on TV am I to find the lush green grass that I crave while I'm buried under a mountain of snow?
One of TV's great golf personalities was the late, great Bob Rosburg (1926-2009). Bob was a fine PGA Tour player in the fifties and sixties. He then went to TV, where he was an on-course commentator. He would follow the players around and describe what faced them for their next shot. Often, if a player hit his ball into a spot of bother, "Rossi" would say the ball was "dead", meaning the player had no chance to advance the ball. Invariably the player would then step up and hit a beautiful shot that landed three inches from the flag. Rossi saw the ball as dead so often that the players started to call a shot that was dead a "Rossi" or a "Rosburg". (Tour player: "Yeah, I hit it into the trees and had a real Rosburg out there!")
When it comes to paintings, I sadly admit I've painted my fair share of Rossi's. You know-- dead paintings that just had nothing going for them, and no chance at redemption. They seemed like a great idea at the time, but somewhere between idea and completion they came in D.O.A. I think one of the signs of maturity as a painter is recognizing the Rosburgs. If you can't tell what you did wrong, you can't do it right. So, what are some examples of Rosburgs? How about a composition where the center of interest is dead-ass center on the canvas. Not only do the viewer's eyes go straight to it leaving the remaining 98% of the painting unnoticed, but the painting is frozen still with no movement. That's a Rosburg. Or maybe a picture with large passages of dead, solid color, like a large clear-blue sky above a long row of identical green trees. It's a Rossi. How about a painting with a perfectly symmetrical composition? By that I mean an object on the left being the same size and shape as an object on the right. And what about a picture of objects whose placement has no flow or color harmony? Or, how's about a painting done with tiny little brushstrokes with hardly any variation in value? They are all Rosburg's! And I've done each and every one of them...
I would love to think my days of painting Rosburgs are over, but like my golf game, I'll still hit 'em off-line on occasion. But, like my golf game, I've at least gotten to the point where I know what I did wrong. Before I hit a golf shot, I go through a little check list to avoid the obvious-- like, am I aiming my shot into the woods? Do I have the right club? In painting, before I put my name in the bottom corner, I ask myself-- Is this a Rosburg?