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Patience

May 14, 2013

Dear Artist,

Recently, Jil Ashton-Leigh of Steveston, BC, Canada told me about a wise Chinese art instructor who looked at her painting of the Fraser River and said, "Your mind--it is too fast." He told her to sit by the river for 30 minutes each day--no camera, no cellphone. "When you 'observe' the river then you will come to 'know' it," he said. If you're interested, you can read Jil's full letter "The Art of Patience" at the top of the current clickback.

Thanks, Jil. I first noticed my own problem about 20 years ago. I was losing patience with any outdoor painting I started. I was jumping up and running around with my camera looking like an advanced case of St. Vitus' dance. It wasn't the coffee.

It was something more serious. In my love affair with technology, I had mistaken my camera for a life. In my compulsion to grab every image, I lost sight of places I could pleasantly inhabit. I had become a mere collector without actually observing the things I was collecting, and I was feeling bad about myself.

Further, I realized I was living in a world that was "putting in a nickel and trying to get a dollar tune." I took the advice of the great American art educator and author of The Art Spirit , Robert Henri. He warned of the potential problems of too much camera, too little time. To build observational skills when painting from a live model, he frequently placed his students and their easels in one room and the model in another. "There is no art without contemplation," he told his students as they trudged back and forth.

One fine day I had my "hour of decision." Just as a child eventually deserts its soother, I suddenly didn't need my camera any more.

Brothers and sisters, if you've been troubled, or if you've been teetering on the edge, both Jil and I need you to convert. Glad tidings are in the grace of patience. "All things come to he who waits," wrote the poet Violet Fane in 1890. Sit still. Look around. Be one with nature. Inhale life. Observe the nuances. Come sit by the river.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Patience has to be cultivated. Perhaps the entire creative process can be viewed as a patience builder." (Jil Ashton-Leigh)

Esoterica: Several years ago I was visiting William Wordsworth's cottage near Grasmere in the English Lake District. Alone, I followed his trails out behind and above his property and into the shining dales. Passing slowly by nodding daffodils and under scudding clouds, I suddenly got it. No wonder Wordsworth was such a great poet! He took the time to think, to wonder, to contemplate. While predating the phone and the instant camera, he nevertheless had a warning:

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!" (William Wordsworth, 1770-1850)





Patience can be learned
by Richard Mason, Howell, NJ, USA


Great advice. We think we see but most of us don't. Patience is the virtue we need High Country<br>acrylic on canvas<br>9 x 12 inches by Richard Mason High Country
acrylic on canvas
9 x 12 inches
to make our work shine... Difficult when we are accustomed to the world we inhabit but it can be learned...



There are 2 comments for Patience can be learned by Richard Mason

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- May 17, 2013

Your painting doesn't look as if it is 9x12...this makes me wonder about small paintings that come across as large and large paintings that come across as small. Something about the amount of the world they are trying to encompass. Maybe my coffee is too strong this morning.

From: Anonymous -- May 18, 2013

Must be a mistake - it's at least 24 x 30 inches, the size of largest print available at Fine Art America.


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Meditation can steady the mind and brush
by Sharon Knettell, Woonsocket, RI, USA


I am working on my fourth model, third pose and second background of a work I conceived Mozart's Mistress<br>pastel on<br>handmade Twinrocker paper<br>20 x 16 inches by Sharon Knettell Mozart's Mistress
pastel on
handmade Twinrocker paper
20 x 16 inches
two years ago. It is a large life-sized nude painted from life.

I am a firm believer of some form of meditation before painting. Challenging and difficult work makes us tense and if we have the presence of mind - some call it mind-fullness, remembered from those quiet moments, we can steady the mind and brush.

I have worked from both photographs and life, and I would like to share just how special it is having a living, breathing human being in front of you. It takes intense concentration - each minute shift of the model or the light brings new revelations. There are colors you never thought to use - reflections from the background or catching an errant beam of light. Each patch of color on a face has its own value and hue, much more subtle and richer on a live model. It takes time and patience to mix all those separate tones. Painting a face is not like painting an orange, adding white for the lights, dark brown or black for the shadows, then a tint of pink for the lips or cheeks. Euan Uglow, the famous British figurative artist, only managed maybe two paintings at best a year. I cannot imagine how long it takes Jacob Collins to paint his beautiful nudes.

There are aggravations - the model is sick, late, whatever. You have to wait, again, but this is dispelled once the model returns and the light falls on your subject and you pick up your brush. It is magic.



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Three canons of photography
by Douglas Greetham, Falmouth, MA, USA


My wife is the painter, while I was (still am) the photographer, although she has since Shadows and Reflections<br>photograph by Douglas Greetham Shadows and Reflections
photograph
converted me to painter as well. Years ago, we would often spend a day out, mostly along the coast of Maine, she would paint and I would photograph with my flat bed 4x5 field camera. Almost invariably the "keeper" would be the last image captured. Sometimes it took a return visit to really capture what I finally managed to see.

Over the years I have come to truly believe in Minor Whites three canons of photography, which can easily be applied to painting as well.

• "Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence"

• "Let the subject generate its own composition"

• "When the image mirrors the man and the man mirrors the image something might take over"



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Be intimate with your subject
by Janet Summers-Tembeli, Samos, Greece


The observation of subject material is an act of patience and devotion. When you become Beach Hibiscus, LaDigue<br>watercolor<br>18 x 24 inches by Janet Summers-Tembeli Beach Hibiscus, LaDigue
watercolor
18 x 24 inches
intimate with the landscape, feel it, smell it, see the shadows move, the colors change, it's every nuance comes to life. I find it very hard, if not impossible, to work from photos. They lack the 3rd dimension, the movement, the spark of life. When I have observed, done some sketches, found the best time of day, then the landscape flows through my hands, my brushes bring to life the landscape with confidence and my colors sing. There is no substitute for knowing your subject. It requires patience and love. This is what the artist's life is about, after all.



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Work from life before using photo reference
by Mackenzie Swenson, St. Paul, MN, USA


I'm a third year art student at a place called "The Atelier" in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Simon<br>oil painting<br>23 x 18 inches by Mackenzie Swenson Simon
oil painting
23 x 18 inches
We are never allowed to use photographs for our work (although many people use them as references when they get out of school) and some of the paintings we do take over 90 hours of direct observation of the model or subject.

I'm going to take a minute to explain something lots of people ask about—working from photos. Advanced students are occasionally allowed to use a photo for reference, but we are encouraged to spend our time as students working completely from life. This means that everything we paint or draw is actually set up in front of us, whether it's a cast, a still life, or a person. This doesn't mean photo references are intrinsically bad, but the reality is that photos have limitations. After spending our student years painting from life, using a photograph in a project won't mean blindly copying. Instead, we can look at the content of the photo and somewhat understand what it would've looked like if we had actually been there.

We see the world as unique individuals. Our genetic makeup, collection of experiences, and a million other things influence how we see life. When looking at objects set up for a still life, one person might be drawn to the sweep of the flowers while someone else is caught by the gleam of the vase. Even if it's subtle, how we uniquely see the subject shows in how we paint it. Using a photo means that the 3-dimensional world is translated to a 2-dimensional surface for you. In doing this, we lose the chance to capitalize on our individual way of seeing. One of Sargent's teachers, Henry James, described art as, "A point of view, and a genius way of looking at things." If this has any merit, something of the artistry is lost when we create art based on a photograph's perception of reality.



There are 6 comments for Work from life before using photo reference by Mackenzie Swenson

From: Mike Barr -- May 16, 2013

I think there has to be a realistic balance between observation and painting. 90 hours of direct observation time on one subject will be pretty much setting an artist up for failure if they wish to make any kind of a living out of it. A competent artist could paint 50 small plein air works in this time. I fully support the practice of plein air painting and observation, but you can't spend all day looking at the subject that has to be painted - it has to be done and sometimes quickly! I also believe photographs are needlessly criticized, particularly when the artist has taken the photographs and has already experienced the atmosphere of the place.
Experienced artists learn to interpret photographic reference, it is really the trap of those that are just beginning to paint.
Great painting of Simon.

From: Anonymous -- May 17, 2013

Mr. Barr,

There are an increasing number of artists working from life today and making a go of it. They are doing it at great personal sacrifice because they believe in making something fine, exquisi14te and rare.

Your premise is in a way flawed. Your emphasis is on making a living- not the quality of the art. You are talking about production not art. Today art is being turned out by the bucketloads- much of it thoughtless. Photography enables this rapid production and it also homogenizes the artists. The more you actually see of something- really look at it, the more you learn and make it uniquely yours.

Euan Uglow perhaps turned out at best 1-2 paintings- but he will be remembered.

Most of the endless landscapes and still-lifes copied from photographs, even by relatively competent people, will end up in flea markets.

From: Anonymous -- May 17, 2013

In fairness to Mr. Barr, as stated in his response, he was stressing the need for balance between observation and painting or productivity.

From: Anonymous -- May 17, 2013

I think Mr. Barr thinks you are observing for 90 hours, when in reality you are observing and painting for 90 hours. There is no substitute for working from life, a photo just doesn't provide the required information for a realist painter!

From: Tatjana -- May 17, 2013

Great fresh reminder by Mackenzie about value of learning to see, and then a comment by Mike about translating art life into a real life. Both sides of the coin. Thank you!

From: Jackie Knott -- May 17, 2013

Can we please quit apologizing for using photographic references against our plein air colleagues superiority? My God, Vermeer wasn't the first to use the camera obscura as an artist's tool. Who wants to say his work was deficient? He died in 1675 - heaven forbid artists have progressed since then! Photography is not despicable nor is on site, plein air more worthy. Sure, I can paint plein air ... all I have to do is cover myself completely from head to toe. Ten minutes in the sun will put me down for days and may necessitate hospitalization and at the least, a doctor's visit and medication. Apologize for using photographs? Not on your life, or mine. Which is worse; photographs or plein air incompetence? I know one sincere artist who refuses anything less and he still gets it skewered, bless his misguided heart. You don't criticize computer sensitive controlled pigments, synthetic brushes, fabricated boards, allergy neutral solvents, projectors, Acrylics!! ... but photographs are evil? Please .... if it was all about photographs none of us would ever pick up a brush. Get over it.


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Healing Spaces
by Jan Heaton, Austin, TX, USA


I am currently working on a series titled quiet. Patience is a must for my process! aquatic 3<br>watercolor by Jan Heaton aquatic 3
watercolor
During the past year I have been researching how color in our surrounding environments — particularly nature — influences our personal health and well being. After reading the book, Healing Spaces , that explores how our immediate environment affects our senses, emotions and immune systems, I began to paint what brought me peace. With an emphasis on repetitive, quiet patterns of movement found in nature, I focused on line, color, and form.



There are 2 comments for Healing Spaces by Jan Heaton

From: Marney Ward -- May 17, 2013

Love the painting. And I too paint what brings me peace, that's why I paint mainly flowers!

From: Anonymous -- May 17, 2013

I paint what I love!! The love shines through every time.


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Serendipitous photos
by Kathleen Corrigan, Golden Valley, MN, USA


What timing! I have been painting a series based on photos I took from the car window as untitled<br>oil painting by Kathleen Corrigan untitled
oil painting
my sister drove my parents and me through the Irish countryside in March. I often paint from photos. The time to sit in a landscape is a precious necessity. When traveling through a country with a pack of people, however, personal space as well as personal time is often compromised so I had to satisfy myself with stealing quick snapshots as we buzzed through Connemara, the Burrens, and the Dingle Peninsula. What is wonderful about these quick, often serendipitous shots is that I can project myself back into that place though I only caught the barest glimpse at the time. The narrowness of those roads, with the shoulders of the stone walls forging alongside and the bristly green purple barked trees closing in overhead caught at my imagination. Painting from these photos allows me to look more closely at that place now.



There are 2 comments for Serendipitous photos by Kathleen Corrigan

From: Kathleen Knight -- May 17, 2013

I agree with your approach, and love your painting. Thanks!

From: Liz Reday -- May 30, 2013

I agree. Travelling with family & friends doesn't allow the time needed to set up the easel and paint from life. Having said that, and I love your painting, the experience of painting outside in the landscape is so intense and so gratifying that I can only feel sad for those artists who don't do it. I spent the last 2 years studio painting until hitting a wall. So I set up some stuff in my studio and painted it. Much better. My life opened up when i took my easel outside. Yes, it's hot, cold, wet. windy, noisy, etc. But it's LIFE. Nothing else can compare. See the drawings of Edward Hopper and how he used them to create his studio paintings.


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Building a visual library
by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA


Several years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Rocky Mountains on two separate trips within two years. Guardians of the Waterway<br>oil painting<br>72 x 24 inches by Diane Overmyer Guardians of the Waterway
oil painting
72 x 24 inches
The first trip was with 3 of my artist friends for the National Sculpture Convention in Loveland, Colorado. We didn't have much free time, but we were able to do a few day trips and one overnight trip into the mountains. Every place we stopped we would all jump out of the car and shoot tons of photos. The next trip was with my family. Since I already had a lot of reference photos of the mountains, I wasn't as camera crazy, even though I did take some photos. The difference between the two trips was the amount of time I spent just sitting and soaking in the views, versus stopping and taking photos. When I got home from the second trip I was surprised how those images of the mountains were literally embedded into my mind' eye, so to speak. To this day, I will have images of nature pop into my mind as I am painting. Ron Monsma calls those images in an artist's mind, their "visual library." Every time we sit and just observe nature, people or life... we are building that visual library.



There are 2 comments for Building a visual library by Diane Overmyer

From: Marsha Hamby Savage -- May 17, 2013

Diane, I love your observation about travel, taking photos, and then your next time there! I completely agree. We drive out West every other year. First time, I took close to a thousand photos, and now each time we go, I take less. I agree with soaking it all in and building up our "visual library." It helps with studio paintings (along with plein air studies done on our trips).

From: Margie -- May 17, 2013

Like the idea of a "Visual Library." And your painting. would love to see a large one.


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Become familiar with the scene
by Jackie Knott, Fischer, TX, USA


Patience in observation is necessary to not only reproduce what we see but it goes far deeper Blanco River<br>oil on canvas<br>20 x 24 inches by Jackie Knott Blanco River
oil on canvas
20 x 24 inches
than that. One cannot take in details in a quick glance regardless if you go home with a fine digital photo for reference. You must experience a place long enough to become familiar with it.

A river is a living breathing entity as much as people or animals. I like to sit at a river to take in its pulse, the current. The sleepy Blanco River will sometimes swell with temper as rainwater rushes down from the hills and the low places are lost in a flash flood, in minutes. No river (or scene) is static; it changes from season to season, from one month to the next. How can we know that without the patience to study it?

Impatience tends to bless and curse the young. Life can be tackled at breakneck speed but the good news is we grow out of that. As we age we tend to savor our experiences. Impatience might be a positive attribute for some vocations but not art.



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No glass necessary
by Terrie Christian, Plymouth, MN, USA


I want to share with you my experience and ideas about watercolor. A few years ago, in a workshop Comet<br>watercolor painting by Terrie Christian Comet
watercolor painting
by Bob Burridge, he suggested that Golden Acrylic Spray Varnish could be used on watercolors and then glass would not be necessary. I was thrilled, tried it and never went back to glass. Since then, I have another method that I almost prefer, but still use the spray sometimes. The product is Dorland's Wax. It is archival and gives a richness that the spray does not. I do not know if it is lightfast or not. I agree with the person's comment that watercolors should be hung where direct sunlight does not hit them. I bought a very big container of it from Cheap Joe's when they had it on sale. Small containers are available at Dick Blick .

Before, glass on my paintings allowed you mostly to see the reflection of the trees outside. Now the paintings are clearly seen. None seem to have lost any of their color and they are 3 years old or older.



There are 8 comments for No glass necessary by Terrie Christian

From: Lucy Bates -- May 16, 2013

Terri, I am a watercolour artist and you have given me the courage to spray or wax my work. Thank you.

From: Gentlehawk -- May 16, 2013

Yay! Thanx for the tip, I'll try it soon.

From: Valerie Kent -- May 17, 2013

So, suggestions for ways to frame the sprayed or waxed painting?

From: Marsha Hamby Savage -- May 17, 2013

Wonderful about the spray and the wax for your watercolor paintings ... without glass reflections! Now, if we could figure out how to frame a pastel without glass ... without ruining the "pastel" look!

From: Anonymous -- May 17, 2013

About Pastels. You may try something else, it is not exactly pastels, but can give an effect sort of like them. I often use Caran D'Aache water soluble crayons on top of my watercolors. I am not a pastel artist much because of their fragile and messy nature, but love how they look. I know the crayons do not mix like pastels. But something new might be fun for you.

I do know pastel artists who have spayed their work, and when I have tried pastels on top of watercolors I have sprayed them with the varnish. It is only a small amount of pastel, and not so fragile as a whole pastel painting. It does tend to slightly change the color to a bit darker, but this has not been a bother to me.

I forgot to say in the frame response that when the watercolor paper is the "Mat" then I wax the whole thing. The acrylic colors that I use on top of the gesso are the transparent Golden brand paints. On their tubes of paint there is a bar code type of area on the label that if you can see through the bars it is transparent and if not it is opaque. Their paint is also seems to hold up for years on anything I have used it on.

From: Jim Oberst -- May 17, 2013

Terrie, thanks for sharing this. I'll need to try it.

From: Angela Treat Lyon -- May 17, 2013

Yes! Wax! I wax all my 2-D paintings - oils, acrylics, gouaches - it's a great surface. If I can't get Dorland's I use neutral shoe wax! I use Yes! Glue to glue the paper to archival foam core, then frame as if it was a canvas.

From: Anonymous -- May 17, 2013

Yes! Glue is what bookbinders use to glue the front and back inside cover sheets with - it doesn't wrinkle the paper up, when you apply it right the paper lies absolutely flat and the glue is is archival.


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Evelyn Dunphy workshops In The Footsteps of Frederic Church - at Rhodora, the site of Church's camp on Millinocket Lake in Maine  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
Evelyn Dunphy workshops
In The Footsteps of Frederic Church - at Rhodora, the site of Church's camp on Millinocket Lake in Maine

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Doug Downey, Springdale, Newfoundland, Canada



You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Polonca Kocjancic of Slovenia who wrote, "From time to time I found myself in a beautiful area or spot 'unprepared,' without a camera. But then I developed the following attitude: 'If I don't have a camera, I will take this photo with my heart.' I just sit and enjoy for some time. I am convinced that this attitude has given my life more quality."

And also Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki of Port Moody, BC, Canada who wrote, "To be fair to all the busy bees out there struggling with many responsibilities, I don't think that lack of patience is the same as lack of time to do things properly. I am often pressed into running into nature to just take photos, but always bitterly aware what I am missing - so I make sure to plan for those priceless pockets of time when art can be born from patience and dedication."


If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material please feel free to forward it. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by reading our Welcome Letter.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Patience...

From: marj vetter -- May 13, 2013

I find, the camera doesn't see what I see, now why is that?

From: John Ferrie -- May 13, 2013

Back when I was a young and budding artist, I went to art school. The earth was still cooling back then as we didn't have cell phones, GPS or even electricity after 5 pm. Well the first two parts were true. I was brimming with enthusiasm to be in art school. For the first few weeks anyway. What they do in art school is start everyone out at the basic level. That is to say, they make it like you have never made art before. I spent months cutting out black and white pieces of paper, drawing drapery, sculpting pots and having the life sucked out of me. One instructor, I can't remember his real name, we just called him "Dead Ted". He was a smarmy little man who wore the exact same thing to school every day. He had a thick german accent and would read to us endlessly from the "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I literally sat in this class and plotted his death. On peak days we would stand in a circle and stare at blank sheets of paper on the floor "stocking the internal dialog" (in a german accent). Only to have the paper taken away and we could still see it in our mind...Oh-ahhh-ohhh-ahhh!! I thought this was the most painful and idiotic exercises in futility. I would crank up my walkman and try to comprehend that art school would someday become the freeing wonderous experience that I had hoped and dreamed of.
It seems like a million years ago. But as a painter at the grand old age of 51 and who currently paints cityscapes, I am forever trying to cram everything into a painting to make it read as the city I am trying to portray. On a number of occasions recently and thousands of times over the last three decades, I have drawn on "Ted's" teachings and techniques that have come to define me as the artist I am today. The more I know, the less I know, but the teachings we hate, no matter how painful, help fill in the gaps that we struggle with the most.
John Ferrie

From: Carol Kairis -- May 14, 2013

Forever remains the anticipated expectations of a tropical storm descending upon Rosemary Beach Florida. The open "bar" shared upon the sanding shores with good company excited my creative energy! Coasters became "the finest watercolor paper". I wondered
how the pigments would adhere as I gathered six coasters into my purse.

Feelings of "just being" embraced my soul as I settled beneath the pier.. Darkness hovering over the sea, wind by now fighting the elements became my mentor,(never to be forgotten) . To just be...such a wonder ... "patience " yes...a rearward. Yet~"Within oneself be true".

From: Nina Allen Freeman -- May 14, 2013

This is a beautiful letter, Robert! I've been working on some still life paintings lately. The longer I look at my still life set-up, the more I see in them, more color, more bits of light, more interesting shapes.
My dear husband died two months ago and I have found that my creative energy is grieving too. I started with still life.

From: Diane Artz Furlong -- May 14, 2013

Patience is an art itself. And there is no greater teacher than a garden. A garden is a work in progress and requires patient time and contemplation since it can take a season or two for one's effort to show results. Perhaps that is why many great artists cultivated gardens. Think Monet!

From: Joan Brader -- May 14, 2013

Very appropriate advice for the days of our lives..IN THIS DECADE. It is hard sometimes to remember that slowing our minds is what keeps us individuals (I call it "stilling" myself when I sit by our ocean..in the forest,look at the robins..
Thanks for your weekly letters. This 89 year old ex-teacher (English/Art minor) appreciates the talk of beauty, not whether a man or a woman does the visible representation others see via paint and color.

From: Penny Duncklee -- May 14, 2013

Today's message was especially appropriate for me as I always carry my camera and lately just snap pictures of "the" moment instead of sit and let it sink in. I do carry my tiny sketchbook and tiny watercolor paint set too, but have gotten lazy and have just been snapping pictures instead of soaking them into my sketchbook.

From: Jane Dietz -- May 14, 2013

I only want to express my gratitude for the gift of this newsletter. It is very instructive but beyond that it brings me into the fellowship of like minded individuals. This particular lesson was and is much needed in my life. Oh, I checked the light fastness on my paints and found that they are excellent. Phew!

From: Hank -- May 14, 2013

This sounds familiar. I hope that I can learn a little from this message.

From: Carol Picknell -- May 14, 2013

Your letter dated May 14, 2013 Patience should be the very first thing I read every time I go to a Plein Air site.

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt -- May 14, 2013

Patience is indeed a virtue hard to achieve in this age where everything is so technical. It is hard to contemplate and really think deep. We have deadlines to meet and places to go. When we are painting we also tend to rush it and see the outcome of our efforts. It is important to lay back a little to really look at our progress and see how we are executing the vision of our composition and let our brain and our eyes really work together to achieve the best potential of the painting. Is the image we are looking at the same as we envisioned it to be? We have to have patience to accomplish what we envisioned. We have to think back what made us choose this subject and what they mean to us. It is only then we can truly appreciate it. Thank you for the lesson in patience.

From: Caroline Planting -- May 14, 2013

I am finally having an art show at age 67! It's only 4 paintings, and the quality is variable, but it is a really good feeling. It's in a local coffee shop, and a friend bought one of them based on my announcement! I think it's given me more incentive to do series and to explore my art so I can share it with others.

From: Dorothy Lorenze -- May 14, 2013

This is exactly what I needed to hear as I'm about to embark on a plein air workshop in Provence!!!! I haven't the faintest idea how to begin and am counting on Julian Merrow Smith and fellow painters to guide me through it.

As a still life painter I too use my camera to help compose my painting but my other nervous-tension-busybody activity is tea! I have to discipline myself to stop hopping up to make another cup of tea. I'm sure it's helpful to step away from the canvas and take a fresh look - but enough tea already!!!!

I will try to exercise patience and connect with the subject in a more meditative way. Thanks for the nudge!

From: Christine Holzschuh -- May 14, 2013

This really hit the nerve for me today. I know I am guilty of taking shortcuts and need the exercise of contemplating my brushwork, not just recording an image. I have noticed a frequent occurrence of seeing a hiker who is focused on the cell phone. I feel like we are loosing those "Wordsworth" moments even in activities designed for meditative moments. Thank you for the reminder!

From: Ann Dettmer -- May 14, 2013

I appreciate your online letters. The one on patience made me think of this week's American Life in Poetry from www.poetryfoundation.org .

From: Damar Minyak -- May 15, 2013

If you wish to learn patience, become a keeper of bees.

From: Mariane -- May 15, 2013

Beautiful. Just the reminder I needed today. Writing from a public officce having forgotten my reading glasses, I found a moment to go online (as one can increase the text) and found this. My mind and heart shifted instantly from "oh my this is slow" to ah. yes. Thank you! this made my day!

From: Marvin Humphrey -- May 15, 2013

A work of art is an object of contemplation. Naturally, it should reflect the artist's relation to the real world. Hand-held devices obstruct our focus on our actual environment.

From: Babs -- May 15, 2013

I was reading your newsletter on "Patience" and thought you might enjoy Sylvia Boorstein, On Being.org. At the end of her talk with Krista, she ends with a poem, "keeping quiet".

http://www.onbeing.org/program/what-we-nurture-with-sylvia-boorstein/242

From: Ln Skillings -- May 15, 2013

The camera is of course a highly valuable tool for an artist, particularly now since the advent of digital, but, as always, the tool needs to be handled with care, understood for what it is, and not take over.

From: Andrew Porcher -- May 15, 2013

As Mr Genn says somewhere else in one of his letters, "The camera is a terrific slave and a terrible master."

From: R. A. Repin -- May 15, 2013

Maybe we are entering an era where mankind is going to burn out with busyness, overcrowding and exploiting the last bits of the earth, while losing the ability to contemplate, be poetic, artistic, and patient.

From: Bearno Kostarenko -- May 15, 2013

With the digital camera, images have proliferated and become very cheap. This has had the effect of devaluing the work of those who hand-make visual art. The fact that people point and shoot without recording very much about feeling and understanding is endemic to our age. It may end up taking us in other directions.

From: Sridhar V Ramasami -- May 16, 2013

When I was a programmer in the US, the hurry-hurry mode used to work. Tasks would be done and dead lines met. All that fell by the way side when I moved to China and became an artist. I would get stuck on some paintings and I would push and push. Slowly, I realized that it wasn't working. Some knots can only be resolved and undone with relaxation and patience.
www.svrart.com

From: Alan Rutherford -- May 16, 2013

I remember an old uncle of mine that was visiting my brother in Ottawa Canada. One day my brother was taking my Uncle Sid to see the parliament buildings, after touring around the buildings for a while my brother asked Uncle Sid if he would like to take a picture. My wise old uncle smiled looked at my brother and tapping his fore finger to his temple replied "It's all here son, it's all right here." My Uncle unlike so many of us today took the time to absorb what was around him and truly experience what he observed. My Uncle Sid was a greatly loved man and I think you can understand why. We need presence to experience the presents that are before us.

From: Monica V Loncola -- May 16, 2013

No truer words have spoken Robert!
I embrace this concept and truth everyday in all I do.
I'm so grateful that I've adopted this thinking since my formative years and it never left me. I encourage my students in this adage as well.
Blessings to Robert Henri and The Art Spirit.
It's my bible.
Thank you for this insight which will enhance ones in sight for both the internal and external.

From: Mary Susan Vaughn -- May 16, 2013

I spent the good part of a glorious day in Freedom Park yesterday taking photographs with my iPhone because the scenery and beauty around me was so glorious I wanted references for paintings and didn't want to forget anything. I am, however, returning with easel, canvas, and paints in hand and I'm going to soak it all in. Freedom Park is in Charlotte, NC. Oh, did I say "Thank You?" I now know what my problem has been all along - depending too much on the photographic image reference and not my minds eye.

From: Rick Rotante -- May 16, 2013

Patience is a problem with many of the painters I come into contact, especially those I teach.

To help break this habit of rushing in too soon and working, I have everyone sit and look at the model or the scene and just ask some questions i.e. Where is the lightest lights? Where are the darks? What is this painting going to be about? and so on. I want them to not pick up a tool and spending some time looking. Invariably, they don't spend enough time thinking, but its a start.

We are all in too much of a hurry to get it done which is a sign of the times.

From: Russ Hogger -- May 16, 2013

Hmm! so to be an artist I have to be patient and I mustn't use a camera. You've got to be joking.

From: Ib -- May 17, 2013

A couple of thoughts on painting/art.

What difference does it make how it is done, as long as you get the message across?

Do you want to paint like Rembrandt or Warhol, or yourself ?

Yes it is nice to be able to paint like Vermeer, but many current day so called Master's paint on top of Giclee prints to speed up the process or satisfy their ego's.

Here are a couple of quotes from Miles Davis that I like to use for inspiration.
Just substitute the word play for paint.

“Don't play what's there; play what's not there.”
Miles Davis

“you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.”
Miles Davis

From: Judy -- May 19, 2013

I'm a newer artist just about to start on my final project. It will take about a year. All the comments on patience and photo references is really helping me plan out my work. 300 photos to find 8-10 sites, then I will go out to sit, observe and sketch. Only after all of that will I paint. Thanks for helping me justify my procrastination! It may take a year before I have the nerve to show you anything.

From: Suzanne Frazier -- May 22, 2013

I am delighted with what you wrote in this letter on Patience. I'm a contemplative artist. I sit with my subject and absorb it. No camera. No need for details. They are all in my heart. (I leave my head out of the process.) Then I paint on site or return to the studio to capture my contemplative experience. My art is about my "sharing my contemplative experience".

From: Margaret Ferraro -- May 22, 2013

Your last newsletter hit with perfect timing. I was in the middle of teaching a 3 day plein air class. So, after reading your installment on patience and experiencing wholeness in the great outdoors, it was saved and read to my class. We took inspiration from the idea of slowing down and observing more, as part of our creative processes.

It was a beautiful day here, we went to a sweet spot close by, with many layers of depth. Our goal was to look observe, experience the day and discuss our findings for 30 minutes before pencils hit paper.

In explaining who you are and the breadth of the topics you discuss in your newsletter, I remembered one submission, for plein air-ers. It was about a doo-hickie thing you fashioned yourself, that sits within the steering wheel while painting. The board or canvas sits on this easel looking thing in the middle of the steering wheel. The topic came up when we were out painting and the clouds decided to rain upon us. Do you ever repeat an article, for special requests?






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Last modified: Aug, 29, 2014