Monday, May 9, 2011

Half-Way There And Other Thoughts

I can usually gage when I'm about half-way through a painting-- not by determining how much I may have left to go before I finish, but when I feel I have screwed the thing up beyond repair.  That's the stage I'm at right now with my current project.  It's kinda alright if you stand far enough away.  And close one eye.  Then squint.  While looking through your cupped hand.  While you're upside down and looking at it from between your legs.  With the lights off.  But stand up, turn around, open your eyes and turn on the lights and it's a different story.  I don't think I'm the only one who's felt that way during a painting.  I read once that Norman Rockwell called it the, "My gosh, it's horrible!" stage.  And as I always say, if it's good enough for Norman...

After my recent blog By Definition where I kind of rant about what I think art is not, I was asked by a kind reader what specifics a painting must have to be considered art.

You've seen my paintings.  Do I look like I know?

Actually, I think it boils down to something very simple:  Color and Composition.  Some may throw in Design, but it doesn't roll off the tongue like Color and Composition.  This is what I mean, though;  I think a piece of art has color that is harmonious and pleasing to the viewer and arrayed in a pattern that leads the viewer's eye and engages the brain.  It could be an abstract, or a Bouguereau.  But I still firmly believe that an artist does it on purpose, not accident.  After all, John Sutter found gold in California by accident, and it didn't turn him into a Geo-Physicist.

I just got an email that said I was juried into an event to be held later this summer.  It was followed moments later by another email that said I wasn't juried into this same event.  Ah, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat...

I'm in, though.

I was looking at a web site that showed the winning paintings of an art competition.  I know I shouldn't really say this, but the one hundred or so works in the competition look like they were all painted by three or four guys.

And speaking of trends in painting; since when did painting edges get the same stigma as letting babies play with knifes?  You know-- it's just not done.  Look, I know the impressionist had their philosophy of blending and softening edges to show roundness of form, and there's nothing wrong with that.  But it seems to me like the basic human fault of trying to improve upon perfection has taken over.  If a soft edge is good, then loose is an improvement.  If loose works, then ragged is great.  If ragged is great than sloppy is-- The.  Best.  Thing.  Ever!

I did a colored pencil of the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point, Maine.  I worked on this puppy for a couple of weeks.  Since it is pencil, and easily smudged, I sprayed it with a fixative.  The problem was that a solid drop of the stuff splattered on the paper and left an ugly dot on the white of the lighthouse!  I don't know what to do with it, but it looks like this-

I guess now I'll have to call it a spot light!




Katherine Tyrrell said...

Nice blog.

I wouldn't worry about the spot - I can barely see it.

Kevin - I've taken a look at your landscapes and seascapes and really liked them - plus also liked your approach to painting the state where you live. I wondered whether you could take a look at my blog The Art of the Landscape and see whether you might be interested in being interviewed for one of my "Places to Paint" posts.

See for some examples of artists who've been featured on the blog so far.

MCGuilmet said...

"But I still firmly believe that an artist does it on purpose, not accident." I agree, that is a critical component. Thank you for sharing the thoughts.