Monday Motivator: Let the Painting Speak

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

“It is important to allow a painting to speak for themselves in terms of balance of mark, gesture, colour and compositional balance…

“I am not particularly interested in illustrating a particular scene with every blade of grass, nor do I want location to be particularly obvious. I want the paintings to speak for themselves as entity.”

— Contemporary artist William Wood

Perhaps when someone looking at your landscape painting asks “Where is it?”, the answer should be “Wherever you want it to be”.

Small Seascape Talisker Bay painting by Marion Boddy-Evans

See Things Differently

laundry line isle of skye

What do you see? Make a list of at least six things. Do not use single words such as “washing”, “bus stop”, “road”, “clouds”, or “grass”.

laundry line isle of skye

How about “sun burning through the billowing clouds”, “wind catching the sheets on the line”, “shadow pattern of the wooden fence posts on the road with counterpoint played by white road markings”, and a “seat for Godot in the bus shelter”?

Did I think all this when I stopped to take this photo? No, I was out taking photos for my new reference book for my next Higham Hall workshop. I’d been hoping to find some laundry, as a reference for elements to include in a painting, and that’s what caught my eye, then the pattern on the road. The sun and clouds had been with me all afternoon, so I noticed it only in terms of not looking directly into it. Godot and the bus shelter, that came to me as I was looking at the photo to write this.

What are the thoughts on your list? Post a comment and let me know!

[Edited to add comments from Facebook]

Lyn Asselta: This is a fabulous exercise! Brilliant! I am always asking my students to stop looking for “nouns” (or objects, things).

Julie Rysdale: Smudgy bus stop windows telling the story of who waited; fenced fingers waiting to trip the unwary; green inky grass to smear on the evidence; alphabet shirts flapping their code to whoever will listen; sunshine fleeing the scene of time; the mysterious clouds the only witness to the drama unfolding!

Kit Wells: Refraction of light, bubbling clouds, stark shadow, moisture in air, contre jour washing, division of observed field into classic parts.

Maddy Buckman: Smeary windows, marching pickets in a fence, a peek at fields beyond through the gaps, billowing clouds on the move, lonely chairs in the empty space, soft but definite shadows, washing lifting in a breeze.

Monday Motivator: Respond Like a Stone

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

The second-century slave-turned-teacher Epictetus admonished his students in this way: “Stand by a rock and insult it, and what have you accomplished? If someone responds to insult like a rock, what has the abuser gained with his invective?”

quoted by philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, Anger is temporary madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it

Anger is so easy to get caught up in. Instead of finding something definite to do in response to what angers us, we marinate ourselves in our anger. A little marinating adds flavour, but it isn’t the end point.

reflected clouds skye

Monday Motivator: Found vs Developed

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

‘Passions aren’t “found” … They’re developed.

[There are] two mind-sets. One is a “fixed theory of interests” — the idea that core interests are there from birth, just waiting to be discovered — and the other is a “growth theory,” the idea that interests are something anyone can cultivate over time.

…the fixed theory [can] cause people to give up too easily. If something becomes difficult, it’s easy to assume that it simply must not have been your passion, after all.

— Olga Khazan, “‘Find Your Passion’ Is Awful Advice“, The Atlantic, 12 July 2018

Put aside the expectation that learning to paint and draw should be easy and fast simply because you’ve finally decided now is the time to do it. Give yourself permission to spend the time, however long that turns out to be. Besides, the goalposts move as you learn.

My Top Painting Tips: Brush Away From an Edge

If you’re looking for October’s word prompt chart, you can download it to print here.

Competency and Passion are Not the Same Thing

Ducks in a row (or rather swans) in Edinburgh

You can be passionate about something but not competent at it (such as me on piano) and you can be competent at something but not passionate about it (accountancy was an easy A for me at high school). It’s a mistake to believe that we should prioritize something solely because we’re good at it.

Likewise to insist that something is worth continuing to do only if we get better at it over time.

The joy in the doing is sufficient.

If I encounter a piano and there’s no-one watching I will be unable to resist. I can no longer torment the instrument with all of Für Elise from memory, so usually it’s subjected to scales. Particularly contrary-motion E scale with its “E, two blacks, two whites, two blacks, E” rhythm. The sound may not be joyous to musical ears, but the playing is joyful to me.

There’s a line in the film “Room with a View” I’ve never forgotten. Lucy Honeychurch (the heroine) is playing Beethoven on the piano and Mr Beeb (the minister) says: “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting, both for us and for her.” (Clip on YouTube.)

Aim to narrow the gap between what we’re passionate about and what we allow others to see.

Worry less about getting our ducks in a row.

Ducks in a row (or rather swans) in Edinburgh

They might just turn out to be swans:

Swans in a row in Edinburgh not ducks

Monday Motivator: Artistic Momentum

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

“The decline of our personal momentum might be the great untold story of our time. That electronic media, incoming, ‘breaking’, please reply, didn’t you see that, react right now, click here… this has a cost. And the cost is our internal drive to initiate instead of to just react.”
— Seth Godin, “The Motor“, 1/8/18

The Muse doesn’t so much whisper in your ear as illuminate the possibilities around you, and that comes only because she is entranced by what you are currently trying to accomplish. The Muse has to arrive to find you painting or drawing, not passively waiting for inspiration to hit.


For Kathleen who asked to see a photo, here are the three paintings I put into this year’s Lochalsh Art Fair (held in the community hall across from Eilean Donan Castle), my little red tractor painting and two of my new mountainscapes (mentally turn the one on the right 90 degrees anticlockwise):

Lochalsh Art Fair Submissions 2018 by Marion Boddy-Evans

Monday Motivator: The Two R’s of Making

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

Monday Motivator Motivation Quote

“‘Repetition’ is about chasing something again, whereas ‘reproduction’ is about leading something forth again.

“In the former you’re always going after some unachievable idea: the resulting ‘things’ only approximating that ideal. Reproducing implies bringing out the identical thing again and again.

“… As an artist I’m attempting to use [pottery and calligraphy] to point out the sublime joy of ever deeper interaction with the earthy world precisely by never being able nor willing to make the same thing twice.”

Tom Kemp

Repetition, not reproduction. Working in a series, chasing an idea, chasing the “what if?”.

Using painting techniques that embrace “happy accidents” as an key element means you can’t do identical no matter how hard or long you try. Similar, yes, in terms of composition and colour. Identical, no, because drips and blended-together colour-runs are serendipitous. That lack of absolute control is what makes it so much fun.

Monday Motivator: Quit Staring

Monday Motivator quote work harder clouds

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

“Working harder and staring more intently at the problem to achieve better ideas is like trying to control the weather by staring at the clouds.

“Rather, you need to incorporate practices that instill a sense of structure, rhythm, and purpose into your life.

“You need to create space for your creative process to thrive rather than expect it to operate in the cracks of your frenetic schedule.”
Todd Henry, The Accidental Creative, p11

Monday Motivator quote work harder clouds

Alternatively: forget control, allow your mind to wander … that’s how you see images in clouds.

Clouds Over Trotternish 2

Monday Motivator: The First Ingredient in a Painting

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

The landscape helped Monet determine how color expressing the light key was the first ingredient in a painting, not drawing.

Monet’s method was expressing light in colour, and not value.
Hensche on Painting page 27

Colours do, of course, have inherent value/tone. It’s about putting colour decisions before tone, not tone first and then colour.

The Manneporte (?tretat) by Claude Monet, 1883. Size: 65 x 81 cm. In the Metropolitan Museum in New York.