“So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. … we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.”
“There is a natural distortion that occurs in every painting. Very few paintings are accurate to what we see with our eyes verses what the camera records. … a painter is looking to create a piece to communicate beyond a mere record … expression goes beyond accuracy.
“We tolerate inaccuracies in paintings because of two reasons. One, we simply know it’s not a technical reproduction; second, we accept that the painter is telling us something as an expression. Paintings are not poor excuses for a lack of a camera.”
Stop worrying about getting one colour absolutely right and spending ages mixing it. That colour is going to look different when you put your next ‘absolutely right’ colour next to it anyway. So go with ‘more or less right’ and adjust once there are lots of colours in play. Interaction is the name of the game.
“… researchers logging questions asked by children aged 14 months to five years found they asked an average of 107 questions an hour.
… high-performing students … saw curiosity as a risk to their results. The questions they asked were aimed at improving their results, whereas the questions asked by more curious students were aimed at understanding a topic more deeply.”
Play a game with yourself . Next time you’ve been sitting somewhere for a while, make a note of something you’ve noticed about where you are. Writing it down in an on-going list, whether it’s a repeat location or new. See if there’s a trend to what catches your eye. Maybe that’s what you ought to be painting.
In her Nobel Prize for Literature lecture in 1996 Wislawa Szymborska said: “It’s not accidental that film biographies of great scientists and artists are produced in droves. The more ambitious directors seek to reproduce convincingly the creative process that led to … the emergence of a masterpiece. … Films about painters can be spectacular, as they go about recreating every stage of a famous painting’s evolution, from the first penciled line to the final brush-stroke. …
“Of course this is all quite naive and doesn’t explain the strange mental state popularly known as inspiration, but at least there’s something to look at and listen to. But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later … Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?“
Painters can do little that’s photogenic for ages too. Thoughts, observations, doubts and doodles that become part of our past influencing paintings in our future.
“I am returning to the pencil. The premise of which remark signifies consciousness that at some point I left the pencil, a moment I have no recollection of. I am going to have to guess. It was around the age of eleven, just as learning got serious, that we were told we could use biro or fountain pens instead. Implicit in this message was the notion that pencil was somehow junior, inferior, not serious. …
“Just as I cannot remember stopping using them, I can’t quite pinpoint their return. …
“I find I can’t read now without one. For underlining and margin notes, the pencil’s the thing. It’s quick and doesn’t smudge …The great thing about these pencils … is the lack of fuss of them. … they don’t ask for much. The odd twist of the sharpener, yes. But not much more.
“Using a pencil I find myself following my best teaching advice: ‘Don’t rub out, just put a line through it’. It is as though the lack of physical pressure required to move my hand across the page somehow removes the psychological pressure to get it absolutely perfect first time. While I know it never will be, it’s a lesson I can never learn too often.”
“Whatever crazy, impractical, nonsensical reason there is for you to be an artist, consider the alternative. To paraphrase Robert Henri*–you can’t get rid of the part of you that yearns to be an artist, any more than you can get rid of your shadow. Embrace it.”
“…the unpredictability of wet in wet effects teaches [you] to improvise with the paint behavior rather than try to dominate it.
“…all wet in wet effects result from an imbalance of wetness between paper, brush and fresh paint
“…the main source of control is turning water against itself, using moisture to guide and control moisture in much the way that forestry workers use fire to control and extinguish a forest fire. This is the wet in wet balancing act.”