Monday Motivator: Brushmarks Touching Reality

Monsieur P painting

Art motivational quote“No matter what I look at, it all surprises and eludes me, and I am not too sure of what I see. It is too complex. …It’s as if reality were continually behind curtains that one tears away … but there is always another … always one more.”
— Alberto Giacometti, quoted in Pure Presence, page 15

“…the emphatic quality of the artist’s brushwork … allows the spectator to recreate how the artist, in touching the depicted object in the act of painting it, imaginatively touches the real object itself, or brings it within reach.”
Source: Interpreting Cezanne by Paul Smith, page 63

Monday Motivator: Courage

Monsieur P and the BIg Paint Tube

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”

Adam Lindsay Gordon, Finis Exoptatus, 1867

How easy it is to become doubtful in the darkness of short winter days, in the depths of a wakeful night, in the midst of a multitude of brushmarks that seem to be going nowhere.

Lost courage and doubt are cousins to creative block. All come visiting uninvited and unwanted, hang around and make you question yourself, but do go away again. It’s hard to hear their footsteps as they approach so you might shut the door before they enter. Once they’re in, say hello, listen for as short a time as possible and show them the door by reminding yourself of what you have achieved and not focusing on where you haven’t gotten to yet.

Monday Motivator: Multifarious Simultaneousness

Monsieur P big pencilI was browsing through Monet and Modernism for today’s quote but discovered I’d used my first and my second choices already, but kept coming back to them as they echo where I feel I am with my supersized daisies. So, here they are again:

“In order to truly see nature anew and not merely register it, habitual perception must be made more difficult… [by] merely suggesting rather than sharply delineating objects, emphasising ambiguity and openness, employing serial methods, and including the viewer in art [a painting] becomes an incarnation of the creative process.”

“… While the existing natural forms remain the same… their appearance changes with the time of day, light, and atmospheric conditions. Similar to the way memory takes things separate in time and assembles them into a new entity. …the actual subject of the art is not an event proceeding in linear fashion but multifarious simultaneousness of layers of time.

— Art historian Karin Sagner-Duchting writing about Monet in “Monet and Modernism”, pages 29 and 46/7

I find myself entranced by the seemingly familiar; you think you know but, the more you look, the more you see and the more you realise there is too explore. Few are the subjects I can draw or paint once and then move on forever.


Monday Motivator: All Paintings Start Out Blank

Starting a Painting The Blank Canvas“The development of an imagined piece into an actual piece is a progression of decreasing possibilities, as each step in execution reduces further options by converting one — and only one — possibility into a reality. . . . the piece you make is always one step removed from what you imagined . . . after all, your imagination is free to race a hundred works ahead, conceiving pieces you could and perhaps should and maybe one day will execute — but not today, not in the piece at hand. All you can work on today is directly in front of you. . . . art materials seduce us with their potential.”

(Quote source: Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland)

At first this quote may not seem particularly motivational, saying our painting will never get where we see it as being, forever doomed to be “always one step removed“. But instead of fearing never achieving it, rather regard it as always having something to strive towards.

If every single painting turns out perfectly without effort, where’s the creative growth? But if every painting leaves you thinking there was something else you might have done (even though you know it’s not part of that painting, which is finished, really), you’re already painting the next one before there’s a mark on the canvas. You’ve already got the next step on the journey, and the step ahead of that shows a route onwards.

An Artist’s Black Friday

Monsieur P and Studio CatCarbon (lamp) black?
Mars black?
Bone (ivory) black?
Perylene black? (Is it black or green?)
Chromatic black? (Using which recipe?)
Which black is this Friday?

(If you’re in need of a distraction from the antics of Black Friday on all the websites you’d usually look at, I suggest playing with Golden’s virtual paint colour mixer. Even better, play with the real stuff.)

Monday Motivator: A Poem About Negative Space

Art motivational quoteThis poem by Peter Sheppard is dedicated to all budding artists looking forward to the future in search of inspiration.

Negative Space
When is a space not space, I’ve posed this question many times before,
Is it above or below a line, like between a ceiling and a floor.
Or, is it empty, or is it full,
or does consist of nothing at all

What does it weigh and what colour is it,
Is it yellow or is it blue — or green,
Or a pastel hue or an earth shade or
The colour of a birds wing, taking on a beautiful sheen

It’s transparent or opaque. Is it still or does it quake,,
Does it move like an echo around a hill.
Does it take you along on a very long river,
Like an eddy, a ripple or rill.

Does it sway from side to side, does it slip or does it slide
What if its narrow and fast or a mile wide, or does it go up a hill.
When it hits a solid barrier going faster than a harrier,
Does it stop, or go straight through, like porcupine quill.

Does it weigh more than an ounce.
Does it weigh heavy or nothing at all
Is it something off which your ideas can bounce?,
Can it lie flat, or is it something to stand up against the wall.

It seems to me that it is anything of these,
And in the places in between,
Solidity has it all its own way, it knows what it is and where it’s been,
Not like me sitting here, but regally as a queen.

My mind is going bonkers as I sit here in this place,
Heading like an Astronaut, vertically, and about to go into space
I’m retired now and I’m 68, I’d better take my pills,
With my pencils, brushes, paper and paint, I’m off to get my thrills.

Monday Motivator: Remembering

Art motivational quote

Sphagnum moss remembers. It recalls
the touchdown of each lark that tumbles
down upon its surface, the slightness of that weight
recorded in the tendrils of each stem.

— from Sphagnum Moss by Donald S Murray

Our fingers and hands remember. They recall
the touchdown of each brush
down upon the surface, the slight pull of that paint
recorded in the bristles.

Hitting that “I Can” Moment

There’s a special magic in that moment when someone who thinks they’re “not particularly creative” discovers that they do indeed have more of “it” in them than they had long thought. Believing creativity somehow skipped you isn’t something that happens overnight, it creeps in slowly, as expectations set by yourself and others aren’t met, yet another road towards the destination isn’t considered and so you give up on ever getting there.

We all have things we do better than most and things others do better than us, but the enjoyment in the doing of something is ours alone. The end result is something separate and should not as readily be the aspect judged when it comes to deciding whether it’s worth doing, or not. The enjoyment is reason aplenty.

From the sketchbook of a workshop participant: exploring ink, line and wet-on-wet, control vs serendipity.
The fun in the doing: photo from a workshop about exploring waterbased materials.


Monday Motivator: I Wandered Alone, Not Lonely

Art motivational quote

I wandered lonely alone as a Cloud an artist
That floats who walks on high o?er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd inspiration
A host of dancing Daffodils
& daisies & foxgloves & grasses & purple heather & autumnal leaves falling;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but the
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:-
A Poet? An artist could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed ? and gazed ? but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood.
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

— (not quite) William Wordsworth

Autumn leaves Edinburgh