Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Gem of the Convention

I ran across an open letter to artists from Joe Paquet this week.  He wrote it some time back. But hot on the heels of his address to the Plein Air Convention, with his address still fresh in my mind, I found his open letter quite compelling. His singular way of expressing himself which does not allow artistic folderol into the mix, seems comfortably blue collar to me. Joe does not take prisoners. He simply tells it like it is, and let the chips fall where they may.  His head-on delivery may not be as polished as some, but there is no mistaking his meaning. And he is passionate about his beliefs and his work. His eyes light up when he talks about his work. If you go to his blog page  http://www.joepaquet.com/index.php you can read his open letter online or download to read and review at a later time. I did both.

He has emerged as somebody I had not thought to take a class with, but has become somebody whose class I am most anxious to take. He makes you think, strip away the veneer and get down to brass tacks.

Ray Robert's Palette
Definitely an Original

With every impending birthday I feel no closer to feeling good about my work. I wonder does every artist feel this, or am I super sensitive to this issue? I do not want to pay money to a workshop teacher who will show me a few facile tricks and be oh so kind about my work.  What point is this? I think that the workshop with Mr. Paquet would be a good one. It would make me think. Hopefully give me direction in which to grow and learn. It’s a fine line a teacher/mentor walks. They cannot sink your boat  and still teach you anything, other than frustration and despair. But neither should they fawn over the work extolling its virtues. You will not advance. And its the workshops that make you think about your work in a different context that are the most valuable.
Compliments engender complacency and complacency is a vicious thing. It allows you to become satisfied with whatever level you are working.  It’s often easy to paint in a way that your public likes. it's safe. But you (meaning I)can’t stop there . That’s creative death. A new solution to a painting problem is always waiting to be discovered. And the new solution incorporated into your tool bag is what keeps your work fresh. Sometimes you need a teacher to point out what is lacking. Self critique is really good, but it has the inherent limit of being one person’s perspective, your own. And it is so much easier to critique your fellow painters than to judge your own. I think all reflective, thinking artists who give a damn about their work, appreciate an honest critique. It’s often not easy to hear, but it’s oh so necessary.
Painter along the coast of Monterey
I think the singular thing that I am taking of inestimable value from the convention is to be original, not derivative. I am taking to heart the importance of getting the work done, to find my singular, non-derivative voice.  Joe Paquet is an original. I thank him for his wisdom and I appreciate the sharing of this wisdom.

Now to incorporate it into my work.

Favorite quote of the day:
Clever does not equate art.                                                                                             (Daniela Andersen)


  1. I LOVED his speech and told him so several times when I saw him later there. I also enjoyed his input (when I asked) on my painting I was doing on the last day at the wharf as he was walking around. He was spot on with his advice and when I did what he suggested, my painting made a turn around and looked pretty good! Even to me! haha! I enjoyed your review here and look forward to reading his letter.

    1. Denise, how very lucky you were to be alongside him! I too found his speech absolutely spot on. That's why I felt the subject of it had to be shared in some way to my friends who had not gone, but who paint.
      And after asking him, he graciously allowed me to publish it. I hope you find his message as inspirational as I did.

  2. I have only just found time to read this thought provoking post. Lots going on in my mind. I think a lot depends on what stage or level an artist is at. In the early days, encouragement may be more important than an overwhelming honest critique.
    I think you were receptive to what he said because you are a professional artist and understand how an objective eye can point out what you may have missed. You would recognize the truth in the critique and be excited about the improvement.
    Months later you would most likely have seen it yourself.
    Regarding the "facile" tricks or techniques. I think every workshop I have taken is incorporated into my work - knowingly or unknowingly. Personal taste is all part of it and I have only taken from artists I like. They all have had their little bag of tricks. It is what they do with them that holds my interest.
    Your work is at a level where it will be harder and harder to find the right workshop so this is where the expression of putting the miles on the brush comes into its truth. You are there. Self critique is paramount. All that knowledge you have stored away needs to be refined to your own taste level.
    Just like choosing your wardrobe. No difference really. Your own style in art is what you choose to go with what and how you put it together.
    Enjoyed this exchange, dear Louise. Please have confidence in your direction.