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Beyond 'So what?'

October 5, 2012

Dear Artist,

Last night, Catherine Stock of Rignac, France wrote, "I wonder if you could write a letter on how to elevate one's work beyond the "So what?" level. That's where I'm stuck. I can draw and paint pretty well, but--so what? I would imagine there are a few of us out there with this problem."

Thanks, Catherine. You're right. "So what?" is universal and as insidious as studio termites. Here are a few thoughts:

Deus ex machina, according to Wikipedia, means "God from the machine." It's a literary and theatrical plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object. Roughly translated as "God made it happen," it's primarily used to move the story forward when a writer has "painted himself into a corner."

Using this concept, you need to ask yourself what extraordinary thing could be made to happen in your picture. It could be, among many things, a burst of light or an unlikely inclusion. You need to think of something just a bit magical. An engagement of imagination brings a shot of emotion, drama or surprise. This visual epiphany, devised or not, is key to entering the sensibilities of others. Artists who merely rest on their drawing or other facility are forever condemned to the back room.

Another valuable blah-reducing ploy is to do inventive things with your surfaces. This might include adding crusty impasto (a la Lucien Freud), flinty fidges of gradation and zip, (a la Paul Cezanne) or smears and smudges (a la Francis Bacon). But it's the nuances you invent and make yourself--embedded in your processes--that neutralize creative boredom and give energy to carry on. "This is mine" chisels out your claim. Your embellishment may not even be very good, but it will be yours. "A poor thing, but my own," is a line attributed to Shakespeare. A unique design, mannerism, or touch of your own is worth more than any rich thing that belongs to someone else.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is." (Oscar Wilde) "Common objects become strangely uncommon when removed from their context and ordinary ways of being seen." (Wayne Thiebaud)

Esoterica: There's a natural human tendency to lean on and repeat that which we do well. This is okay if we're cranking out donuts or widgets. But as self-anointed creative artists, our daily joy and progress rest on our ability to jump beyond our safety. Look steadily and imaginatively at the blah in front of you. Given time and contemplation, your new level will stealthily appear. When "So what?" strikes, we ask ourselves "What now?"





Technique is not enough
by Nicholas Pearce, North Saanich, BC, Canada


There are many struggling artists whose total focus is on technique. Their idea is that the artist Last Class<br>original painting by Nicholas Pearce Last Class
original painting
who paints the most perfect duck/ wolf/ horse/ person/ mountain/ tree/ stream wins. This is akin to the belief that the best writer is the one who can spell flawlessly and knows every rule of grammar. Or the best composer is the one who can play an instrument perfectly.

A painting that has perfect technique alone is a definite "so what." Art, as with writing or music, goes beyond technique; in fact, good art transcends technique. Technique is just the tool we use to say what we believe, either through painting or writing or whatever our artistic medium. When we get in touch with what we believe about the world and express that in our paintings, there is less danger of someone feeling "so what" about our work. There is no substitute for solitary exploration: This is where artists can connect with their true self and come up with work that transcends "so what."



There are 8 comments for Technique is not enough by Nicholas Pearce

From: Mike Barr -- Oct 08, 2012

Excellent comments Nicholas.
Not only should we strive to connect to ourselves but to those who will view our work.

From: Shirley Fachilla -- Oct 09, 2012

Marvelous commentary, Nicholas. I agree. And I paused to read because I was stopped by your beautiful and rather mysterious painting which I looked at long and hard before I read a single word.

From: allan dunfield -- Oct 09, 2012

well said Nicholas : if more painters painted with emotion and tried to paint that emotion there would be more satisfied artists and viewers.

From: Nicholas Pearce -- Oct 09, 2012

Thank you Shirley and Mike for you comments. Shirley, you can see more paintings at www.pearcepaintings.com. Come take a class sometime soon.
Cheers.
Nicholas

From: Nicholas -- Oct 09, 2012

Thank you Allan for your comments
I believe emotion is what drives art. Even art done from an intellectual place is still trying to excite us.

From: Shirley -- Oct 09, 2012

When I got to the "so what" stage, I backed away for a long while to recharge my painterly batteries. It worked and I am now considering myself a "re-emerging artist" in these days that the emerging artist is being honoured and encouraged. Taking a sabbatical has upped my game and added a new dimension to the challenge!

From: Richard Mazzarino -- Oct 10, 2012

Your comments are thought provoking. I went to your site and I feel you are pandering to an idea that women are the universal "beauty" item for all mankind. I can't help but think to paint only the sexually explicit side of women lowers you to just another skin painter with little application to what you preach. Somehow I get the feeling all you've said is just to advertise yourself and your class. By the way, your technique, which you say isn't everything, is very evident in your work. Substance may be lacking.

From: Anonymous -- Oct 11, 2012

hmmm, very photographic...


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The price of teaching
by Olivia Maritz, Richards Bay, South Africa


Thank you for this answer... it echoes my sentiments regarding my work at the moment. I've reached the Untitled<br>watercolour painting by Olivia Maritz Untitled
watercolour painting
stage where I'm tempted to break my brushes and try, of all things, scrap booking! That should be an indication of how desperate I am. I find myself tweaking the work of my students with my own ideas and leaving myself starved when it comes to my own work. So I go back to the familiar and the known... safe places, instead of taking my work to a new level. I'm afraid if I don't stop teaching I may die a good teacher and nothing more.



There are 7 comments for The price of teaching by Olivia Maritz

From: Kate -- Oct 09, 2012

I used to be a dancer and the most frustrating thing about it (especially knowing the short time a dancer has to improve before it's all over) was the plateaus I hit. For weeks, sometimes months, nothing would seem to improve. But suddenly one day I'd shoot up to a new level. So I learned not to give up but keep plugging away at the deficiency I saw. Hang in there! Keep trying anything you can think of to get off the plateau and eventually you will.

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- Oct 09, 2012

this is a really nice watercolor. Before you try scrapbooking, try collage! The process may give you a new take on things.

From: Phil -- Oct 09, 2012

I think you may have insulted a lot of teachers. I hope it was unintentional. One hopes to find the best teacher in whatever one is studying.

From: Michael McDevitt -- Oct 09, 2012

I am an art teacher and a studio artist. I used to be an illustrator and graphic designer. Teaching does not help a studio artist improve. A famous artist I know once told me the problem with being a teacher is you spend so much time looking at student work instead of great work. I am not insulted, although some might be. The reality is that teaching is honoable and confounding at the same time. Lovely, fresh watercolor, by the way.

From: Virginia -- Oct 09, 2012

Try being a student yourself. Take a class with a great teacher like Linda Baker or Kathleen Conover (both NWS and AWS).

p.s. that's a beautiful painting!

From: Frank Nicholas -- Oct 09, 2012

I tweak the work of my students constantly, unless they refuse help. It's all about fundamentals. My best watercolor instructor, Marian Bagley, at Minneapolis School of Art, would tweak students' work regularly. Sometimes, just a line or two, but it helped enormously! I tell the kids, this painting isn't the last one you'll be doing, or one you'll be exhibiting somewhere. Just use it as a learning experience! Do another that is all you, but don't forget what I just taught you. Marian used to teach us to never let our paints dry out, and to paint at least one night a week, even if you're busy. I still try to do that.

From: Rick Rotante -- Oct 11, 2012

Olivia- "Dieing a good teacher and nothing more..." isn't the worse thing to happen. At least there will be students who move on and may become something one day and remember YOU were their teacher. Forget fame and be a great teacher.(and do you own work too)
Michael- When you teach you don't stop working. The trick to being better while "looking at student work" is to look at great work also. One does not preclude the other. I teach but my teachers are the masters I continue to explore. Don't confuse the two.


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Synchronicity among artists
by Aleta Michaletos, Pretoria, South Africa


I smiled when I read about Deus ex Machina, as earlier this week I re-discovered an image of painting Deus ex Machina<br>oil painting by Aleta Michaletos Deus ex Machina
oil painting
I made in 1987 with a similar title. I'm very interested in the concept of Synchronicity and, for me, this was just another brilliant example! I suppose one could say Deus ex Machina is the intervention of the gods into human affairs.



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Problem with newly found originality
by Alex Nodopaka, Lake Forest, CA, USA


Your reader's letter is a very serious questioning matter for most artists. We have a plethora of The love terrorist<br>sculpture by Alex Nodopaka The love terrorist
sculpture
skillful artisans and a paucity of creators. You handled her question with tact and surgical precision with appropriate responses. I'd like to add: be careful of gimmickry! That means do not be overly repetitive with the inclusion of a newly found originality.



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Believe in yourself
by Debbie Sierchio, Trinity, FL, USA


Back in 2004 I painted a 2' x 4' canvas with acrylic paint that was, to me, just a wave on the beach where the horizon met the sky. I was very proud of my accomplishment. It was a commissioned work and several of my friends told me that it looked like a photograph. I was very pleased. The patron was also very pleased in that he stated when looking at it for the first time, "Wow I want to be in that painting right now!" However, one of the co-directors where I worked at Out North Art House and Production Theater in Anchorage, AK looked at it and said, "So what!" The other co-director then said, "Oh yeah, that's a great way to encourage artists." I then was inspired to paint a Triptych, titled River of Grass, since it was from my imagination of a scene in the Everglades of Florida. The same co-director who didn't understand my wave then said, "Now we are talking!" Criticism--constructive or destructive can be turned into appreciation if the artist believes in his or her creative talent and artistic skills.



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New barn painter on the block
by Dorothy Gardiner, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA


As a plein air painter, doing only landscapes and trying to leave people and buildings out, I was done. Untitled<br>original painting by Dorothy Gardiner Untitled
original painting
But recently I was commissioned to do a painting of a barn built by the WPA, in south Florida. After hemming & hawing - and puffing & panting - in heat & humidity, it was done. What a journey - mentally & physically (it is 3 hrs. south of my home). It was too much like work - but oh so rewarding. The history could be felt. Those old Seminole cowboys were a presence to be reckoned with. Capturing the light shining through the broken boards, painting rotting & decaying wood. What a challenge. Now I'm a barn painter, on a whole new and exciting quest!!!



There are 2 comments for New barn painter on the block by Dorothy Gardiner

From: Anonymous -- Oct 09, 2012

I had a similar experience recently. The task was to paint an old cotton gin, from a blurry old photograph...it led to much mysterious synchronicity. The next task, an old school, led to the opposite..."stinkronicity"...I received a lot of bad vibes from that one and the end product was not very good.

From: Patricia Warren -- Oct 09, 2012

Gorgeous painting! It spoke to me.


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Dilemma of a photographer
by Bill Kinney, Yulee, FL, USA


I am a professional photographer who exhibits in a local art gallery. With the advent of digital Moon rise<br>photograph by Bill Kinney Moon rise
photograph
photography, and the ever-increasing technical quality of cameras and smart phones, it has put artists like me between a rock and a hard place. The problem is twofold. If I produce a well-contrived photograph that is technically good from the standpoint of subject matter, composition, exposure, etc., the "snap shot"' photographer thinks, "I can take that picture." That can be his perception and he will not make a purchase.

On the other hand, if I do a fair amount of image editing (I prefer this word as opposed to manipulation for what I think are obvious reasons) that same person will proclaim, quite adamantly, "That picture is Photoshopped," look down his nose at the picture and again won't make a purchase. So what do we do to combat this very troubling dilemma that will do nothing but get worse as time goes by?

(RG note) Thanks, Bill. Our world is undergoing a surge in creative democratization. People in poor countries who could never have afforded processing and development from film cameras now take free photos on their cellphones and show them around to their friends. Further, images of war, destruction, injustice and cries for freedom can be flashed around in seconds. As artists, our traditional and special role as unique creative beings is being tested. We live in extraordinary times. To stand out in a world where everybody thinks they can do it, and many can, and the people have more power, we need extraordinary work, extraordinarily conceived, extraordinarily presented.



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So what?
by Michael Epp, Vancouver, BC, Canada


I first encountered the phrase at architecture school, when a student went through an elaborate Late afternoon, early spring<br>original painting by Michael Epp Late afternoon, early spring
original painting
explication of a not-very-good project, only to have a professor say "so what?" at the end of it all.

My feeling is that most of us are fated to produce "so what" paintings most of the time. I think it is worth remembering that all paintings go through a protracted so what phase when they are being created, which may imply that any painting can transcend so-whatness if it is nurtured long enough. I think composition is critical, and I remember that many, many artists, including [and perhaps especially] the most famous, recompose radically on the canvas as they work, and often restretch the works after completion to improve the composition and proportions of the piece. As in music, a gift for composition is innate for a lucky few, and for more of us, may be given to us after we have sweated over our work long enough.

No artist produces only masterpieces. When we think of Cezanne or Picasso chances are we are still thinking of only a few pieces culled from a vast body of work.

It may sound perverse, but I think the fact that Catherine has that "so what?" question dogging her is actually a gift that will impel her to keep moving forward in her work. Children draw and paint and are happy with what they produce, but when we become adults, we put away childish things. We are fated to look, question, and feel dissatisfied. I know many painters, including me, sometimes put up work that we feel is still unfinished or inadequate in some way, only to have buyers fall in love with it. Sometimes I wonder whether the struggle to transcend and to feel one has fallen short doesn't communicate itself in some way and actually add to the humanity of the work, which is what it's all about.



There are 5 comments for So what? by Michael Epp

From: Helen Opie -- Oct 09, 2012

I think Michael Epp has found the silver lining: when we begin to question ourselves, we open ourselves up to growing. Dissatisfaction drives the truly enquiring to find new paths. Nearing 80, I find I am struggling more than ever with daring to try more new things, and the pressure of coming near the end of my life definitely pricks me in the conscience to try harder! I feel I am making progress; no major shift in style, just allowing more heart to show, and that said, it may be that when our struggles to create show through in our work, that evidence of struggle gives our work an attraction because it is humanized. Perhaps it is passion that shows, and passion always attracts those who appreciate it, those who also have passion.

From: Christie -- Oct 09, 2012

Your painting is enchanting! I find my self want to return and return to look at details, to step back and absorb the feeling. Definitely not so what to me!! What size is it? (I picture it as a small gem.)

From: Shirley Fachilla -- Oct 09, 2012

I agree Michael has found the silver lining that helps explain that inexplicable connection sometimes made between a person and a work of art. Sometimes the energy and the passion is there for some to see even if to the artist the work falls short of his/her intent.

From: Michael -- Oct 09, 2012

Hello Christie. Thank you for your kind appreciation. The picture is actually sort of medium-sized, 24x36 or so, & if you are ever on Bowen Island you can drop by the municipal hall, where they have a giclee copy hanging in the general office area, for a look. Thank you Helen and Shirley for your appreciative remarks too.

From: Stefan Brunhoff -- Oct 09, 2012

Hey Mike

Glad to see you are painting and not just architecting. Here's something I wrote as an intro blurb for a show I had, maybe its apt to the discussion:

"The mystery of what God places before us in the world is infinite in its impenetrability and is ultimately ungraspable. One seeks to see, touch and elicit the profundity, the beauty, and the strangeness of what is before ones eyes and to distil and amplify this into the painting to some measure. One never succeeds, but rarely is failure so rewarding and the search to continue the attempt so compelling."

Whatever.......

Cheers,

Stefan


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Lisa Mozzini-McDill workshops Held in Fallbrook, CA, USA.  <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>.
Lisa Mozzini-McDill workshops
Held in Fallbrook, CA, USA.

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



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Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Beyond 'So what?'...

From: Marvin Humphrey -- Oct 04, 2012

Always add a touch of experimentation to your work. The little twists and turns will spice it up.

From: Catherine Stock -- Oct 05, 2012

Actually I suppose I can answer my own question in two words: Keep working.

No quick solution or contrivance will push me forward. Just mental elbow grease and focus.

From: ReneW -- Oct 05, 2012

Interesting subject, Robert. I sometimes fall into the "blah" or "so what" category in some of my work. It makes it to the trash heap quickly. What my work sometimes lacks is a "smash factor" or "wow factor". This ultimately means a drastic change in direction. Difficult to do when you've been doing the same "so what" thing for a long time. It may be difficult because your style is strongly related to your signature. Over time you can change your signature, somewhat but it is still your signature. The same is true with art. So perhaps just a change in subject matter is all you need to do to get out of the "so what" realm.

From: Michael Chesley Johnson -- Oct 05, 2012

Beware of gimmicks, and paint from the heart.

From: Darla -- Oct 05, 2012

You're right to beware of gimmicks, but you do need to take a hard look at your art and think about what you can do to make it stand out from all the other pretty pictures. Buyers want something a little different when they buy originals, like a conversation piece. Think about what it is about the thing you're painting that appeals to you, and paint that, instead of merely making a visual copy of the subject. Sometimes it's as simple as making sure you've got a strong focal point, good simple design and contrast.

From: lscott -- Oct 05, 2012

Maybe the "so what" is not the most accurate read of the work, but one's own internal sense of restlessness. Looking at your paintings, at least as online images, they do not feel "so what" especially in the expressions of your subjects. Keep mining, keep working, and keep drawing and painting from life, I think - fast, slow, upside down, blind, closely. Life observed, and the attempt to translate it to 2 dimensions, is an endless source; we just have to look more and more.

From: Dwight -- Oct 05, 2012

Catherine says she's good but only that. After looking at the prints of her work, which do show some skill, how about this (from an old guy who's done it for 7 decades): More contrast. More "pop". And how about trying portraits of less "beautiful" people? Find some with wrinkles, messy hair, crazy cloths or the unusual props that go with their work. Sometimes the most interesting things about human life are not pretty or posed.

From: Claire Remsberg -- Oct 05, 2012

Paint form the heart and avoid gimmicks, but one could try a new medium or new subject matter to add some new spice, or playing around with the style of another artist, just to see what feels right to bring home to your own work. Painting with others is good for inspiration too (workshops or informrally with friends). Catherine - I like your work a lot. I agree with Dwight - your strongest pieces have more contrast or value range.

From: Claire Remsberg -- Oct 05, 2012

Try a very limited color palette, or using only palette knives, or painting with your subordinate hand or on a new surface. These may sound like gimmicks and they are, but such things could shake loose some new spice for you that is worth keeping in your repertoire.

From: Tom Semmes -- Oct 05, 2012

Catherine, you have chosen a difficult subject matter if you want to find the power in your painting. Portraits need to cater to the person being portrayed, i.e. being a realistic and flattering representation of the sitter. I see a lot of excitement in your paintings, in the folds of cloth and in the handling of backgrounds. But not in the people's face in the paintings. Which is all well and good because who wants someone to be too creative with their face? If you want to find more passion in your painting, paint just what interests you. Drop the portraits for a while and just paint still lifes, landscapes, abstracts, whatever. However, if you get paid well to do the portraits, maybe you will have to accept a little trade off for the passion.

From: Jim Kissel -- Oct 05, 2012

I know it is an old truism, but the study and application of composition is about the only way that I know to move forward from the 'So what?!' plateau.

From: Moncy Barbour -- Oct 05, 2012

The happy accident does much more some times for invention than hours of ponder.

From: Andrea Cleall -- Oct 05, 2012

I LOVE this post. I saved a 'so what' sunflower painting by throwing in red and green chili peppers and some dried sunflowers. I didn't realize what I was doing but now I know.

From: Marilyn Timms -- Oct 05, 2012

What a great question. As someone who recently looked at many pieces of hard-fought art in the role of juror, this question “So what?” came to mind for me too at times. Being creative and brave is more than technique, more than fancy effects, it comes down (or up) to being yourself fully and with gusto. A perfect copy of a photograph may impress from a technical standpoint but, one asks, where is the artist (so what?)?

From: Lynn Nash -- Oct 05, 2012

Re: Catherine Stock's paintings; I would say they are anything but "so what". I think the way she paints faces and fabric is extraordinary. I bet a lot of other subscribers will agree. Lovely work!

From: Mark Larson -- Oct 05, 2012

Or, put simply, many artists are technically proficient, and some are good at conceptualizing. A master is able to combine them both.

From: Cooky Goldblatt -- Oct 05, 2012

Thank you for your generosity of spirit. I get a lift from your letters and really look forward to them.
With this letter, I felt like you were translating my unexpressed thoughts into words!

The getting beyond.... checking the ego at the door and exiting through the window... is what makes the making of art so exciting.

From: Siddartha Das -- Oct 05, 2012

"Value added" is a principle that turns failing companies into successful ones.

From: Karen -- Oct 05, 2012

It has to do with having a point of view. You need to have something to say, maybe it's earth-shattering, or maybe it's just "look, isn't it wonderful how the light hits the edge of this dish!" The hardest part of a painting for me is the point of view.

From: Catherine Stock -- Oct 06, 2012

Great comments. Thanks. Actually I don't paint many portraits anymore for the exact reasons some of you mention above, though still enjoy quick watercolour portraits of children from life because they are such a challenge (and no one else wants to do them.)

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland -- Oct 06, 2012

I agree with Dwight. The best portrait in the group by far, is the one of the old man. All it needs is the dark of his trousers repeated somewhere else in the painting to balance it.
I used to do patchwork and quilting (not fibre art; just simple quilts), and got to know some experts in the field. I learned about the "zinger", the colour that stood out from the others, and brought an entire quilt to life - it made you more aware of the harmony of all the other colours.
Last week a friend and I went to choose the silk chiffons from which we're making the scarves our choir will wear. We'd decided on a mix of jewel colours worn over basic black.
It took a couple of hours, because there was such a choice of gorgeous hues it was hard to decide. We'd gone for reds, blues, purples, greens, and then picked up a brilliant lemon yellow and put it down with the others, and the whole lot stood up and sang to us. ;-)

From: Dominico Thel -- Oct 06, 2012

What we need to find in more paintings is "drama." For those of us who live relatively undramatic, peaceful lives, this may be a stretch. But there are may ways to add pictorial drama, some of them quite minor.

From: Jackie Knott -- Oct 06, 2012

Too many artists tend to "keep score." Stop. The price tag or the number sold can be, but is not always a valid yardstick.
Reevaluate why you paint. Approach each piece with as much skill and sensitivity as you possess. Grow, learn, refine your craft ... never be satisfied with "good enough." Strive to be relevant. But understand the value is not necessarily in numbers but in the pleasure the buyer receives from your work. That is especially true with portraits.
Some years ago I was reluctant to take on a posthumous commission, considering the best resource I had was a passport photo with a few blurry candid snapshots. When I delivered and unveiled their painting the widow and son both cried. So how valued is this painting to the family? During Hurricane Rita it was removed from above their mantle (Houston) and packaged in bed with the widow as she and her late husband rode out the storm together. She told me later, "I have my coffee in here and Jim greets me every morning with a smile."
You can't put a monetary value on that ... far beyond "So what?"

From: Carol McIntyre -- Oct 08, 2012

Thank you for so eloquently describing what I do in my paintings. A few years ago I was tired of my "so what" paintings and began letting my love of a little surrealism to be more prominent in my work. http://paintingharmony.com .

From: Lynnette Fuller -- Oct 08, 2012

I always look forward to your insights. Your present one on 'Beyond 'So what?' blew me away! Excellent! Thank You!

From: Rick Rotante -- Oct 08, 2012

Too many painters paint what they see and not what they feel about the picture being painted. Buyers want to see more that a reproduction of actual facts. If it just resembles anything they have already seen - So What? Artists are artists because we get to interpret what we see. If you just want a copy, take a photograph. This is what separates the just good from the really great. You just have to look at the great painters and ask yourself - "Why can't I avert my eyes?" What you will see is not a reproduction, but an interpretation of life as seen through their eyes. I don't know how you paint but if you yourself feel So What, its time to risk you artistic life and find out what is in your heart.
Paint that! Every thing else be damned.

From: Jim Lorriman -- Oct 08, 2012

In 2000 I made a bowl that got damaged right at the end of the finishing process. This meant that after all the work it could only be sold as a second. No one wants to buy seconds so it sat and languished in my gallery for several years.

Every now and then, even a humble wood turner gets a brilliant idea. A local artist was in my studio hanging some work for a studio tour or some such thing. I grabbed the bowl, turned it upside down and said, "Paint a stump for me!". The artist demurred but I insisted. It took her several months to work out how she was going to paint in 3D, but she did it and it was a stunning piece of work.
In response to your "So what" email, I have a proposal. I would be willing to make some bowls for artists to paint. The original stump was made from recycled cedar from a Panabode house. I have more of this wood and could use it for a project like this. I would have to be paid for the bowls but could provide them at a wholesale price, food-safe on the inside and buffed and ready to paint on the outside. The paints that work best for this are acrylics. Ideally, a coat of food-safe finish should be put on top of the painting to protect it.

In the end, we made 4 stumps. Three went out of the country to England, Australia and the US. The final one was donated to help raise funds to fight the Mega Quarry that is proposed to be dug just a few short kilometers from my studio. This final one was painted on the inside also - with a quarry!
This idea may help some artists get out of the doldrums.

Bits & Pieces Studio
757082 2nd East, RR#4
Shelburne, Ontario, Canada
L0N 1S8
519-925-5501

jimlorrimanwoodturner.com

From: Ned Benedict -- Oct 08, 2012

I have been looking steadily at the "blah" in front of me, and I like it.

From: Bill Hibberd -- Oct 08, 2012

I have recently come off a year devoted to one single theme, in my case portraiture. I am primarily a landscape painter but felt the need to explore people for a season and so I set an arbitrary goal of one hundred paintings in a year. This was a hugely profitable adventure for my development in all respects. I am calling your attention to the concept of thematic process as a subject for one of your letters. I think all artists would benefit from working through a series thematically. http://www.billhibberd.com/portrait-project.html to see more.

From: elizabeth barry -- Oct 09, 2012

Yes - all art must be "personal". It must be yours and yours alone; not a copy of a photograph, or of anybody else's work, and it must be - something new. (Read Robert Hughes's book The Shock of the New.) If you paint flowers, fine, paint them but show us something about HOW you paint them, that we have not seen before - something you alone do. This is going to take a LOT of thought. You cannot talk when you paint; In my opinion you cannot have anybody else in the room when you paint, because when you are inventing - all your faculties are needed to focus - you need your whole brain working for you. Ban the phone. Lewis Mumford tells us to create "Fresh forms of life". The only mantra I have.

From: Kate Beetle -- Oct 09, 2012

I have a note to myself (keep index cards handy while working). It says LOVE: if I'm not in love with a painting in progress, what am I missing about the original scene? There was something I loved enough not just to want to paint, but actually go for it. Was it the light? Shadow patterns? zig-zag of snowy fields, heavy overcast, flash of orange at the horizon? Subtleties of mist, gray-brown color harmonies--what am I missing or failing to state effectively?

Technically, I need to do a pretty thorough block-in and then bring one key section up to near completion so I can get a little handle on the reward of finished work. That energy helps carry me forward, & also lets me relax a bit in evaluating the rest of the piece.

From: Rick Rotante -- Oct 10, 2012

A word on your Esoterica section- This is the one truth that drives me to better myself. When I finish a hard worked piece, I think I've done well and are satisfied with myself. When looking at it the next morning, I can't help but feel a letdown of sorts because I no longer love the work as much. I put my heart and soul into the piece; it had my full commitment; but on seeing it anew the following day, I can't help but think I missed the mark. This is a constant dilemma and I have no answer for it. Rembrandt constantly was changing his approach to his painting, looking for a new way to say things, a different way to apply paint to get a realistic result. I wonder if this is the struggle of all artists to never be satisfied with yesterday’s effort and strive for better. When I tell this to friends they answer that I am too hard on myself.

From: Lesley Davies -- Oct 11, 2012

I'm having a 'so what?' time as a 'geometer artist'. I find nothing more satisfying than creating art based on sacred geometry. To me it means everything but I fear that to the viewer it may all be looking the same. My question is, how can I make it sufficiently different while still being true to myself and not making it different for the sake of it?
You can see examples of my work at www.lesleydavies.co.uk
Thanks :)






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