Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Structuring the Whites

Thomas Owen talks about the value of starting watercolors with an underpainting, a practice that he refers to as "structuring the whites".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An email from a friend

A friend of mine from Georgia sent me this email and I'd like to share it with other artists. This was written in response to a question from a friend of his, "when will I be considered an artist and not a student?"

"When we stop being students, we will no longer be artists." Keep that fervor you have and combine it with the skills you are acquiring painting by painting, class by class... you will be an artist when you know that you know. (I think you are an artist now, but you are the one who determines when you have earned the title.)

I am reminded of Stuart Cink who won the British Open yesterday . He was a three time All-American golfer in college at Georgia Tech. While on the PGA tour, he trains with a strength coach, a psychological coach, a swing coach, a putting coach, and is buoyed by an understanding, supportive family . He is on top of his game, yet he takes lessons from someone practically every day . The people from whom he takes lessons will never win a golf tournament, yet Cink keeps on studying with them because they can minimize the mistakes and time it takes him to the achieve greatness to which he aspires. Yesterday, Cink was an artist at the top of his golf game yet he will be back on the practice tee tomorrow, taking lessons. There is another golf tournament somewhere again this week. Will Cink win it?
We will know Sunday afternoon. If he doesn't win, somebody else shot better scores. When you are at the top, there is only one direction to go.

The moral: never stop learning, never stop being a student of your craft or there are 100 people who will begin to take your place.

Paint, paint,


Thanks Gary for a great email!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Intuitive vs Logical Design

Over the years, my creative process has been engaged in a contant struggle. At times it's more of an all-out war between laying out/planning my work versus trusting my instincts. Plan, plan and plan some more and work comes out looking stiff and contrived. Grab a brush and go for it and end up with something unresolved. Yet out of the struggle, some very strong paintings arise. They seem to be born of a marriage of both approaches and I can never predict their birth.
A very logical painter I know called me a gambler, always rolling dice. Another artist told me to get that broomstick out of my a** and loosen up. The question remains: what is the best way to paint? From my experience, the best way requires hard work and developing an attitude that no painting is precious. You have to be willing to risk failure.
With regard to hard work, constant and on-going exploration of the elements and principles of design allow me to approach each painting with a good plan. With regard to failure, my best work may not happen on the first attempt, so I paint in series. I learn from my previous paintings.
Artists walk a fine line and the words of Johannes Itten express this well, "Doctrines and theories are best for our weaker moments. In moments of strength, problems are solved intuitively, as if of themselves". "As a tortoise draws its limbs into its shell at need, so the artist reserves his scientific principles when working intuitively. But would it be better for the tortoise to have no legs?"