Last week-- or maybe it was five or six years ago, whatever-- when I was dropping off a painting for a local juried art show, I saw a picture that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was beautifully conceived and excellently done. I found out later that it was done by a well-known professional artist who has been featured in a couple of art books I own. (Her name is Loretta Krupinski, if you want to google her.)
But this isn't about Ms Krupinski, but what made her piece stand out to me; What I noticed was that every square inch of that painting was carefully thought out and given the same amount of effort as every other square inch. Not detail, mind you, but execution. Nothing was haphazard or an after-thought. You could plainly see the care with which she painted the piece.
And then I looked at mine...
You know, when one goes into an upscale art gallery or museum, we see fine works of art, but nothing makes a painting truly stand out as good as when it's hanging next to bad art.
(Side note: No such thing as "bad art", you say? We can have bad chefs, bad cops, bad teachers, even bad doctors, but we can't have bad art?
And before you think I'm smugly above the fray, -- I've perpetrated some horrendous art on the world myself.)
Anyway, I resolved then and there to give my future works the same amount of care and thought as she did hers. What the hell, if it works for her... But you know, I've also come to notice that trait in other fine (in my opinion) artists and their paintings.
Let's look at one of my favorite artists, Tom Lovell:
Tom was a student of the Haddon Sundblom school of painting; bold, decisive and colorful brush strokes. Seemingly done in a swish, swish-- there's a painting! manner. You can see it in this picture-- thin here, impasto there. Not niggled and over worked. This painting is about 25 or so inches long and about 15 inches high. Not large at all. Now, check out the guy on the right. Look closer at his left hand and the pencil he's holding:
Who says detail has to be tight? Tom didn't take some yellow and swish it on and call it a pencil. He lavished just as much thought and effort on this maybe two-square inch of canvas as he did on the nurse and soldier. That's why his work is in books to be studied, I guess.
Another of my favorites, and a guy I don't mention much but will in the future is Maxfield Parrish. I think Parrish was probably the most creative artist of the Twentieth Century. He combined fantasy and realism in a way that wasn't done before, and really hasn't been done since. If 1900 to 1950 were the "Golden Age" of illustration, Max was a Sun God. He retired from illustration work and painted landscapes for 30 years. His subjects were mostly inspired by the New Hampshire country side where he lived. Here's one I particularly love:
He used a glazing technique that was straight out of the Renaissance. But what looks super-tight and detailed at first glance can be a bit misleading. Look at these rocks--
Geez, it looks like an abstract painting! (Note to self: try to make every picture a series of abstract vignettes that when put together look realistic).
OK, one more, while I'm on a roll. I have no idea who did this 19th Century painting, but I really like the sensation of a perfect Mediterranean day it evokes. Classical paintings of ancient Roman and Greek times from that era were done in the studio, and no matter how much blue the artist put in the sky, it always looked like a gloomy day. This one shows sunlight and color beautifully- just don't ask me what the hell the people are doing...
I don't know the dimensions of this piece, but I'm sure it's huge. But still, look at how this artist thought out every element. Again, while this is no swish-swish technique, it doesn't mean it's stiff. The upper right hand corner could be a Monet street scene:
By the way, the little detail at the top of this blog showing a porch rail post and rocks are from my latest, but it's not quite ready to be unveiled:
I have a few inches left before it's done.