Monday Motivator: Confirming by Misjudging

“An artist’s early work is inevitably made up of a mixture of tendencies and interests, some of which are compatible and some of which are in conflict with each other. As the artist picks his way, rejecting and accepting as he goes, certain patterns of enquiry emerge. His failures are as valuable as his successes, in that by misjudging one thing he confirms something else, even if at the time he does not know what that something else is.”

Bridget Riley, “Mondrian Perceived, 1997”, in “The Eye’s Mind: Bridget Riley Collected Writings 1965-2019”, page 378

I remember a figure-painting evening class, back when I was living in London, in which you picked three colours and used these for light, medium and dark tones, then chose another three colours to overpaint and refine the tones. My painting went from bad to worse to dire. The tutor tried hard to be encouraging about it, but at the end of the session I could but laugh at my painting and we ended up agreeing it clearly wasn’t an approach that was working for me. Eventually I’d realise my issue was that I get seduced by colour regardless of tone, and start to deliberately add darker tone as a step in creating a painting.

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