Thursday, December 23, 2010


I must confess:  I am terribly lazy, and I constantly put things off for later.  As a matter of fact, I never did get around to making my New Year's resolution last year to quit procrastinating.  I'm so bad, that what some people put off 'til tomorrow, I put off 'til next week.  I swear, one of these days I'm gonna join a support group...  One of the side effects of being a procrastinator is the inevitable running out of time.  (Gee, really?  I hear you ask).  Today at noon I started my Christmas shopping.  Now, on the one hand I'm pleased that I started a whole day earlier than usual, but on the other, I have to be satisfied with what I got done today.  The ultimate result of procrastinating is always having to say "good enough."

When it comes to painting, I regret I say "good enough" way too often.  But it's not always the result of running out of time, it can be noticing too late that I didn't do something right, and to fix it would mean repainting the whole damn picture.  I showed the painting above in my blog Value Is A Valuable Thing.  I wasn't exactly thrilled with certain elements, but I kept at it by refusing to say "good enough".  Some passages I considered done I completely repainted.  It may not be my masterpiece, but instead of being good enough, it's as good as I can do it.

But repainting a few elements is nothing when compared with what my hero Norman Rockwell would do if he wasn't satisfied with a painting.  You may be acquainted with the painting Freedom Of Speech:

Doesn't look familiar?  That's because this is the first version.  Rockwell posed and photographed all of these people.  Then he made a full scale charcoal drawing of the scene, the same size as the canvas.  He had this painting completely done when he realised he wasn't happy with it at all.  So he got his models back, and did the whole thing over again in this version that everyone knows:

He did the same thing with the painting Freedom Of Worship.  I have seen the original version, but I couldn't find it on the web.  I found another case of his repainting in an illustration for The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.  Look at the first version of the kid holding up a dead cat:

Rockwell went to Hannibal, Missouri to do research for his illustrations.  That's Mark Twain's hometown in the background.  But Rockwell didn't think the kids stood out enough.  He obviously felt there was not enough contrast in the scene, so he made another attempt.

This time he silhouetted the boys against a dark woodlot.  It makes them the sole object of the painting, with no distractions.  I could show even more examples of his re-doing a painting, but these were the most extreme, in my view.  But now ask yourself, would you completely repaint a picture the way he did?

I'm sure I might-- as soon as I got around to it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Painting to All!



martinealison said...

Joyeuses fêtes kevin...

Susan Roux said...

This one reads better. I like what you did with it. Was it just a contrast adjustment in photoshop? lol I can see warm tones on the back trees. I think they're a very good addition.

Enjoy your holiday...

Priti said...

Interesting post! Happy holidays.

Kay said...

ahhh..another outted procrastinator! I have often asked myself why I put off what I really want to do and there are as many answers as times I have asked. Lazy, depressed, no will, unmotivated, uncertainty..but I have finally come to some enlightenment..I love to think and daydream about art as much as I enjoy doing art..and that is ok by me!!! So if you think that is a form of be it..but I am dreaming of paintings and I am happy!!! Have a Happy Christmas! Love the painting too.