I actually try to learn something new with each plein air study. John Cosby, an acclaimed artist, in his blog addressed something that I had found very disturbing, given that my hair is now more silver than it has ever been. Most 'in the know' artists say that it takes miles and miles of canvas to learn to paint. That practice makes perfect. Knowing that miles and miles may be more than I can do this lifetime around, I found this totally disturbing. Then I ran across John's posting. He says Every Stroke Is Important. The thrust of John's post was that intelligent painting decisions make for far greater strides in painting. To quote him; "To my horror "Practice Makes Perfect" is incorrect. Now I know that someone wrote that down wrong. It should have been
"PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT".That means to me, that I resolve to not paint something simply because it is before me, but to make decisions in composition, in value and color in the here and now. To know why I am painting a painting in a certain way. Its like a light went on when I read that on his blog. I know that there are painters who seem to go off on automatic pilot when they paint and get great results. Perhaps they have already painted those miles and miles of canvas. I need a shortcut. I need a conscious direction. Self imposed challenges give me that direction.
So at the end of a painting session, I ask myself - Did I get what I was after? Its not always yes. Though the viewer may have no idea what went on in my mind. I will try again, I will try better.
Art without passion is not art. Likewise, to go about painting a thing in the same way time after time and expect a different result is idiocy. Passion and intellect is what Ken Auster says is painting. Some days it is too much one or the other. Its that balance that keeps the edge of interest. That is why painting is a constant challenge. Its not the 'right' green, its the right concept.