Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I’d Like To Only Have To Paint All Day!!!

There is a fallacious idea out there that all artists do is ‘paint all day’. How I wish.
Among artists I know, there is universal dismay about the amazing amount of preparatory work that goes into producing any work that is even close to finished.  It is unbelievable the effort goes into a piece  that one feels confident in putting out there for general comments and hopefully a sale. 
That said, it is a miracle to me that anything gets produced at all.

Consider what takes place in a studio setting:
Concept For Possible Painting???
1.      The concept phase

This occurs in the bathroom, before you get your eyes fully open, as you daydream at the kitchen sink, driving home from the store (I almost passed our road yesterday) or anywhere that your personal safety is not threatened by a healthy dose of thinking and gazing about. It could also be the flash you get while reading about another artist, their work or looking at an instructional video about another’s work.
2.      The elemental development stage.

You make thumbnails, notans ( 3 to 4 value sketches), then you try out color combinations, styles that might work, peruse old photos, looking for that one you took eleven years ago when the kids were small and cute. You set up your painting space, taking out those materials you have decided to use in this act of creation.
3.      The in-the-stream development stage

You consider the size of the piece, what support you are going to use, which medium you going to use, how you plan to begin this newest masterpiece.
4.      The actual production of the piece

This is what non-artists think we only have to do to be successful as an artist, and what they envision us doing all day.
5.      The all important critique phase

This is where you look at and assimilate what you have done into your consciousness, assessing the validity of the work. Does it succeed as you intended it to? If not, you are back to phase 4.

If after all this, the work is acceptable (notice I did not say wildly successful) you may decide to frame it. The type of work determines the type of framing and you must accommodate all the considerations that the work demands. If you have framed it, it may still need to be reframed if it is to be accepted in certain shows. All shows have their own framing requirements and accompanying costs.  If you try to get into juried shows, there is the whole process that each one entails and the requirements are all unique to the show’s specific needs. The submissions alone almost require a college degree to get right.  And some require a technical translator. 

Then there is the industry that packing and shipping art has spawned. So the wise artist picks the shows that will give him/her exposure, but even that requires a few years of trying different venues out. If you enter more than a few shows there is the paper pushing that simple tracking requires. Yeah, office work.

And some of us blog about the process and the production. We try to explain what is involved in the production of what may have caught their eye. An entry may take an hour or it may take three to get it down right.

All of this occurs in the studio model of production.

Then there is the plein air painter. All the above applies, but add to it;
·        driving 53 miles to get to the place that had running water last week, but no, not this week
·        hunting for that perfect view, but some body is fishing where you want to set up  
·        tripping over your feet while laden down with all your gear 
·        doing the ant dance cause you set up without noticing that ant hill right there   
·        dodging flying B52s that buzz about your head
·        getting a sunburn because it was cloudy when you left and you forgot to check if your sunscreen was in this painting kit
·        having a curious farmer come by wanting to know what you are doing beside his pasture, and you aren’t going to open the gate are you?
My Cousin Paul and Me Painting in Colorado

So yeah, I guess all we do is paint all day. My dentist wanted to know yesterday why I am grinding my teeth. It could be the problems inherent in that last painting, the eternal struggle to get what I intend down on that support, and the feeling that I am getting predictable.  I should send him the link to this blog entry.

Why do we do it? I cannot think of another career where people are so put upon display. We paint because we cannot stop. It is as essential to us artists as breathing air or drinking water, eating food or sleeping. The fact that we continue to get up and attack it again, trying new solutions and learning from our disillusions is to me, the human condition in microcosm. It’s a compulsion, pure and simple.

So what do I say when someone says “it’s so nice you are so talented” as thought the piece paints itself, or when someone asks “how long did it take you to paint that”? I think I’ll hand them this blog address. And the bill for my student loans……nah, they probably have their own.

Favorite quote of the day:
The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run downhill.                                                                                                                                                                   (W. Somerset Maugham)

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