Friday, March 9, 2012
Taking The Long Way Home
Theodore Roosevelt's favorite game to play with his five children was "Follow The Leader". Teddy would take the children on a jaunt around their summer home on Long Island, but not by a nice, normal route. No, Teds would take the kids through bogs, over walls, cutting through dense brush and weeds and fording small creeks. What fun! I can only imagine what post-traumatic stress went through their minds at the future mention of "follow the leader"... (As a side note, TeeDee did the same as president, except instead of his children, he took his cabinet through a killer walk around a local park in Washington D.C. What a card!). I guess Teddy was the kind of guy to take the road less traveled. Suffice it to say that he and I would not see eye to eye on that. I'm not going to admit I'm lazy, but if you add up all the miles in my life, there's not a whole lotta extra ones.
Knowing my proclivity for calling it "good" a bit prematurely, one would think that my painting technique is a quick find-the-color-and-slap-it-on style.
It is not.
I actually prefer the old fashioned traditional realism method of glazing. That method involves a lot of patience which, not surprisingly, I was not blessed with an abundant reservoir. So why do I do it? Because I like the way glazing brings rich, deep colors with a jewel-like enamel surface. I simply find it appealing.
Where my technique and personality clash is when I think a passage is good enough, but yet still doesn't have the finish that I like. Now, most painters have the common flaw of not knowing when to quit. Hell, I'm sure even Jackson Pollack has said to himself "You know, maybe that's one drip too many..." So I know it sounds crazy to say that I think my problem is I don't know when to keep going. After all, isn't a painting all about how it looks? And if it looks right, isn't it done? But yet, I still am concerned about the "look" of the painting, if you know what I mean.
One more fly in the ointment: I'm freakin' blind as a bat. Well, actually, I'm far sighted. That means I can spot a golf ball at three hundred yards, (someone else's, I don't hit 'em that far) but I struggle with seeing objects within eighteen inches. It is a common enough malady with people my age, and fixed easily enough with glasses. And I wear them. Actually, I keep a different set at every place I may need to use them. Well, that's the plan. Usually after a day or two I wind up with four sets by the couch, and none near the computer where I now need a pair. But I digress...
So when I'm painting my tight little detailed passages, I think they look alright-- but that's only because I can't see them clearly. So the path of least resistance is to leave it as-is. The other route means to take a photo of the area, blow it up, and look at the results. If it looks okay at that point, I can leave it alone and move on to the next passage. If it doesn't, I keep going. That means more work and more patience, more laborious steps before I can safely call it "good", but ultimately it's worth it.
It's the long way to go, but I think T.R. would have approved...