Trying to share the journey as honestly as possible. That includes paintings that are not always the best I can do. Yesterday, we had two models who moved a lot. I don’t quite have the skill level to compensate for that. Yet. Something to work on. Still, I think the costumed one (14×11) is a decent start and I rather like the nude (12×9). Both oil on linen.
Oftentimes, I do better when I put less pressure on myself and start a painting with a “whatever happens is okay” attitude. That happened today because I had 6 hours on this pose, double the usual time. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to counter the red, just couldn’t deal with another red and green painting today. So I went for the grey and burnt umber. Great model today; it isn’t easy to hold the same pose for six hours. Untitled, as of yet. 14 x 11, oil on linen.
This one is close to my heart. My family at the beach at my grandmother’s cabin. It is also the largest painting I’ve ever done. I did it for a class assignment; the vision, however, was strictly my own. The instructor did not touch the canvas, but did help by validating my choices and double-dog-daring me to go for a risky idea I had for painting the water. Taking the plunge, so to speak, :). “The Search for Sea Glass,” Whitestone Point, Au Gres, Michigan. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36.
It’s important to paint a lot. Some studies I throw in a drawer forever; others I finish later. Working at it is what matters most, not the result. I will likely finish these, though the nude will be hard since there’s no reference photo. There rarely is for nudes. Most models, understandably, do not allow photos for nude sessions. Great model today; it makes all the difference. I do not envision taking these paintings much tighter; I rather like them the way they are.
Been a little lax in recent months on posting paintings. Here’s a few recent ones I’ve liked. Not sure I have much insight, other than I feel like I’m breaking into a new level. Special thanks to Professor Erin Scott, who’s helped me to think better and triple-dog-dared me on occasion.
Three years ago, I started painting after a couple months of messing around with colored pencils. I was stuck and needed some guidance. So I took my first classes. Truth be told, the instructors were rather surprised at how well I did, considering I had zero painting experience and had not drawn at all since high school. I remember the great Roumen Boudev, my instructor, asking me, “which one of these is medium?” and replying, “What’s medium?”
I was a total rube. Despite that, I plugged along and did some passable portraits. “You have a natural gift,” people would tell me. At the time, I considered that to be a huge compliment.
A different perspective on painting
Flash forward three years. Lately I’d been finding those words, always said with good intentions, to rankle. I wasn’t sure why. But one day, my life drawing instructor pulled me aside to discuss my work and my grade. And he said something that pinpointed my annoyance for me. After talking about his reaction to my work, he said, “You are an extremely hard-working and motivated artist.”
I was rather taken aback. I honestly hadn’t thought about myself that way. Sure, I knew I’d worked hard, doing hundreds of paintings in the past three years. But I didn’t really appreciate how hard I’d worked or that it was noticeable. I thought most painters worked as hard as I do. But … some do, some don’t. And focusing on inherent talent alone discounts the value of the hard work I’ve chosen to put into my paintings.
The case for hard work
Consider these two paintings of mine. The one on the left was my first figure drawing and figure painting ever. It was done in 2.5 hours. While I do still like the colors, otherwise it is utterly incompetent. I remember being super angry when class was over; I knew I could do better. And I could. Compare that to the painting at right, which I did a couple months ago, also in 2.5 hours. Huge difference; right? But both were done with the same amount of innate talent.
Do I think I have a natural gift? Probably. But I think that it’s only about 10% of the equation, maybe less. Most people possess some degree of creativity. It is the cultivation of that gift that makes an artist. Because, even with talent, painting is HARD. Damn hard.