Thursday, September 1, 2011

Swingin' For The Fences

Ted Williams, arguably Baseball's greatest hitter-- even if he did say so himself-- said that the key to being a good hitter was, "get a good pitch to hit".   Sage advice, but easier said than done.  Many has been a big-league hitter who looked like an idiot swinging at pitches in the dirt.  They thought they had a good pitch to hit, only to be badly fooled.  Then there's Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, who once said that the difference between a warning track fly ball and a home run was the difference of just one quarter-inch of where the ball hit the bat.

What's my point?  Well, isn't painting like that?  You know, getting a good subject to paint is like getting a good pitch to hit.  Maybe it's a babbling brook flowing through a lovely meadow, or a vase of peonies, or perhaps a lovely model reclining on a Victorian couch that screams "Paint Me!" the way a hanging slider screams "Hit Me!" to a baseball player.  But then comes the rub: is it going to be a pop-up, or a home-run?

Take that stream, for instance.  Would it be a better composition from this side, or that side?  And that flowering apple tree in the meadow; how do I incorporate that?  What about those lovely flowers in that stoneware vase--  might it be more interesting with a cut-glass crystal vase?  Oh, and let's not forget that lovely model;  should I show one breast or two?  It's those little details that make or break a painting.  The great painters seem to make the right decisions and hit it out of the park, while the rest of us hit grounders up the middle.  Sure, it might be a hit, but it's not a Home-Run.

I don't want to forget about those insidious subjects that look like they would make a great painting, a masterpiece that will hang in the Louvre someday, only to really be a fifty-nine foot curve-ball that you swing at and miss for strike three.  How do you keep from chasing bad pitches?  Practice, practice, practice, so the next time you see a "Hit Me!" painting, you can take it deep.  After all, to para-phrase the one-and-only Yogi Berra, painting is ninety-percent physical--

the other half is mental. 



Virginia Floyd said...

Gorgeous light on these boats, Kevin. The water looks so still and serene, and the reflections are beautiful. Well done!

SamArtDog said...

Sometimes, you can judge a painting by its sound. I can hear this one just fine.

Susan Roux said...

Wow Kevin, you just might have hit a home run here! Look at all that light, not to mention those colors... Dare I even mention the word "emotion"..?

Hummm, might have done you some good to watch me paint on the Cape. Great job!