Sunday, February 12, 2012


As every three-year old knows, the beginning of every answer starts with the question, "Why?"

Why is the sky blue?

Why is there life on Earth?

Why was there a Porkies two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten?

(Answers below)

For painters, the same thing applies.  In my opinion, (which is how IMO looks spelled out) the key to making better paintings is asking "Why?"

Why is that sunset lovely?  Because the beautiful red, pink and gold colors reflecting off the puffy clouds are set against the robin's egg blue of the sky.

Why is that nude a beautiful sight?  Because of the way that shaft of sunlight streams across her bare breasts as she lays across a Victorian sofa.

Really, instead of just liking something enough to want to paint it, I think you have to dissect what it is you like about it.  For me, it's not enough to say, "Ooh, look at that lovely green tree in the meadow", I have to analyze why that tree is lovely to me.  I look at the color temperatures, the details, the contrast of light and darks.  If I can figure out why it's lovely, then I can incorporate that into my paintings.

But I also think that better painting comes from asking why you don't like something as well.  Like, why don't I like that car graveyard?  Because I don't find that pile of tires stacked around a rusted hulk of a car appealing.

Another Why? to consider is also the most difficult one: Why would anyone else like this? 

And therein lies the trouble.

The problem with creative types is that we can find something beautiful in everything;  "Ooh, look at that moist pile of dog poo lying next to that broken bottle!  Isn't the way the sun back-lights it and those buzzing flies just exquisite?  I must paint that!"  But why would anyone else want to see (and therefore buy) that painting?  I might find my aforementioned meadow a beautiful sight, but someone else might think it bland and uninspired.  A different painter (and collector) may just go wild about the pictorial possibilities of a pile of tires around a junked car.  But that difference is what makes the world go around, isn't it?  So when I ask myself why would anyone else like my picture, I just answer "because I do," and leave it at that.

I guess not every Why? has to have an answer.

Answers to the questions above:

1) Because that's what we named that color.

2) Because property values are better here.

3) Because the first nine left so many unanswered questions.


1 comment:

Susan Roux said...

Like your answers.

Seems you continued to mull over our lengthy exchange of heated art talks. You put it all together just fine.

I do agree. It's important to know why something appealed to you enough to paint it. To me it's the most important element to "pull out" or exaggerate in the painting. I'm facing a challenge on my easel. Perhaps I should approach it with this in mind. Thanks for the reminder...