The latest: soon to follow
The latest: soon to follow
While working on my most recent, ahem, oeuvre, I reflected on something I said when submitting my views for interview on this very site: painting is not a race. I don't submit a lot of paintings, although my gallery here is getting quite full; and on the whole I don't submit old work, although given some of it goes back around 40 years, that wouldn't be difficult. I offer, suitably tremulously, only those pieces I've completed in recent months. And - contain that excitement, do! - another will follow in a day or two. Impressed though I am by the enthusiasm of those who submit 10 or more paintings at a time, I feel two things about most of them: 1) that they would be taken a touch more seriously if there weren't quite so many of them; and 2) that a lot of them would be improved by rather slower working, and more reflection. I just wonder what others feel about this.... I know that some of us get annoyed by multiple postings: that's perhaps a separate issue. But I also wonder whether the trend towards immediacy - ie the alla prima tendency - doesn't sometimes lead to work being exhibited which isn't quite finished; in other words, whether a touch more consideration wouldn't have improved it. I know a premium is placed on spontaneity - that value is placed on a picture produced in, say, 20 minutes. But I honestly don't see that putting a time-limit on one's work - unless it's a personal discipline that really reflects a wish to experiment - really means very much.... OK, I can see that it might be a personal goal, to finish a picture in so many minutes or hours: but there's no particular merit in that, is there? Granted, I'm a little biased - being full of (bloody!) arthritis means that I just can't finish a painting in record quick time: physically, it's beyond me. I need to rest - sometimes for a day or two; or even more. But the idea that emotional spontaneity can't be adjourned and then resumed doesn't make much sense to me. It isn't only that the old masters, with whom I would never presume to compare myself, routinely took months or years to finish a painting, thanks to the particular properties of oil paint; but beyond that, I don't see the point in over-rapid execution of paintings anyway. There's a big emphasis these days on the injunction not to "fiddle"; I respect that: certainly, to niggle away at a painting just because one doesn't really know how to finish it is a pretty good way of worrying it to death. But that's not the same thing as taking one's time to breathe and think. Resist, I suggest, any pressure to hurry your painting - speed is irrelevant. Perhaps you're one of those who needs time and reflection - don't feel guilty about taking all the time you want. And not only that - the limited palette is a great help 9 times out of 10: but it's not necessarily a bad thing to employ more colour in a given painting: I remember an article in The Artist (I think: could have been Artist & Illustrators) by Val Whiffen, who used as many as 20 oil colours in one painting - did she lose colour harmony? No! Take the time you want, and the colours you want - what matters is the finished image, not the methods you used to accomplish it. Rules are always there just to be broken: painting is a sensuous experience, and if you enjoy taking that experience slowly and voluptuously, then don't worry about it and think that you're going wrong if you can't dash off a spontaneous work in half an hour or so. Indulge yourself - don't be dictated to by the feeling that you're doing something "wrong" if you take a bit longer. An oil painting, or an acrylic or watercolour, that requires extensive glazes or washes can't just be tossed off in a matter of hours: so long as you're in control of the process, and know what you're doing, finish it when you're ready, and forget the articles and books that tell you that you have to be "fast and loose". Take your OWN time, not someone else's.