Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Pick and Just Paint

I was thinking the other day that I spend way too much time going through reference photos before deciding on something I want to paint. I always start out thinking I want to paint a vineyard scene and then end up going through everything I've snapped shots of in the the end I haven't settled on anything.
I suppose I'm developing a diminising attention span. I'm not sure.

Sometimes I can talk myself out of painting a subject because I think the gallery won't take it or collectors wouldn't be interested in that subject. Even though I know the answer is just paint what you want I still will have second thoughts. I used to paint for fun was king. Then you get suggestions and they screw you all up. After just staring at this screen for 5 minutes and thinking about it maybe I sould listen to the voices....paint what you want.

I think the worse thing to paint are subjects or areas that you have no interest in. I think that is why I don't plein air paint as much as I thought I would. I've gone to several locations with other painters and walked around in search of something I wanted to paint only to find myself settling on something dull to me. What I came home with was a crummy painting and a high level of frustration. I like a good subject, plenty of time, good weather and when that's working it all clicks. Painting in the studio is a coffee, good tunes, no wind or bugs and no lighting problems. I find it much easier to concentrate and rarely do one that is going to end up getting scraped off. Not that they are all winners in the studio. There are always parts to a painting where I'm trying something a little different so I see progress there or feel it totally worked so I consider that a good painting....then later I'll paint another painting over it. Painting is so personal at times.   


David King said...

Ron, I view plein air painting a bit like taking your vitamins and eating your vegetables, it may not always be enjoyable but it's usually good for you. Most of my plein air paintings are crummy, but that's not the point. This is why I'm leery of the current plein air competition fad, all that stress and pressure to create a worthy painting in just a couple hours on location, that's not what it should be about. I even wrote a paragraph in my last blog post about it.

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi David,
I'll read it today. Plein Air has become this big thing with a lot of artists. I can see the good points of it and yet see some downsides to it. I think many artists (and yes you'll see this on WC PA Forum if you watch it for a few years) get stuck with the idea of just churning out painting after painting showing no signs of visual improvement. To me that's a fail.
I never liked the old habit of doing a painting a day for a year either...and a lot of PA guys were doing that. The goal becomes make a painting today....not get better today with a lot of them. It was monotonous to see the results each day of many of the guys doing and I finally stopped going over to that forum for just that reason.
I do pa work nowadays when I just get totally bored of the studio or want to try something out in the great wide open. I'll check your plog out today David, thanks!

David King said...

Another odd painting fad, "Daily Painting", anything to drum up business I guess. lol There's a Utah artist that challenged herself to 300 plein air paintings in a year. She was so focused on meeting that goal she actually damaged her right art from the repeated stress, possible permanently. I believe if you want a goal with a number it should be about time, not number of paintings. For example, a goal could be to paint for two hours every day (when possible, life does get in the way) is a worthy goal. Complete a small painting every day? Not so much IMO. I'd rather spend two hours getting a good start on a larger painting that I'm trying to challenge myself on than paint a whole small painting that doesn't teach me anything. This is where "formulas" for developing skills fail. I understand the idea behind Gladwell's 10,000 hours theory, but if you spend 10,000 hours doing the wrong thing you'll make little progress, people seem to lose sight of that fact and just focus on the numbers.

Ron Guthrie said...

That's it exactly....quality over quantity. Quality is a lot harder to achieve but worth every effort.