Watercolor 15 x 22 inches
I happen to be a fan of “The Palette” Magazine. This magazine is a little known, privately published, bimonthly gathering of articles aimed at watercolor painters. William “Skip” Lawrence and Christopher “Topher” Schink author the content of the magazine and frequently render their strong, well educated opinions about the constructs of “good” art. (I highly recommend that any painter subscribe to and READ the magazine. It makes us THINK!)
Recently, I picked up a copy of “Life” by Chuck Close. Of note, one of the things he said in this book is “Inspiration is for amateurs.” If that isn’t a jaded look at making art, I don’t know what is !!!! But wait! Mr. Close has a long life of art making behind him . . . a ton of experience . . .and extremely good experience I might add.
So, what, exactly did he mean by that statement?
I have been wrestling with his meanings and his motives for saying that for several months. After all, there are many teachers out there who state “paint what you love.” Today, I read parts of the latest issue of “The Palette” and was treated to someone else’s point of view about the very same thing: Pablo Picasso said (lifting this from the text of “The Palette.”) “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Also from the text of the article, “Experienced painters don’t wait for inspiration, for divine guidance, or some miraculous revelation before they take up a brush. They dutifully begin working, trying new things, exploring possibilities. And with exploration comes discovery, some of it bearing fruit, some barren. But, as Picasso observes, you can’t find inspiration without working.”
“Effort is important, but it won’t necessarily lead to inspiration if it isn’t applied in the right way.” Here is my own philosophy about the same thing . . . .”The pursuit of perfection is the ruin of what might have been good art.” Translated, that means that most novice painters (including some advanced painters) are so stuck on replicating what they see, or making everything ‘perfect’ that they miss being creative. They become enslaved by the subject . . . .and their paintings appear brittle, edgy, even ‘stamped out.’
In this day and age of popular Plein Air painting, there seems to be encouragement to ‘paint what we see.’ Then, the artists spend hours, even days, searching for the ‘perfect’ scene to paint and often confronting deep frustration in the process . . . because they can’t conjure up the “necessary inspiration” they need to begin work.
I say that the true artist will tackle painting the mundane, the common, the ignored stuff and put his or her efforts to exalting it to the extraordinary on their canvas. It is in that process of digging down into the font of creation and bringing forth something not before seen that wonderful art truly happens.
Jaded you say? I would only say that after making thousands of paintings, every artist forms inviolate opinions about art making . . . it is from these opinions and hard won experience that mastery emerges.