Monday Motivator: Keep Striving

Monsieur P painting

“It is the only point of getting up in the morning: to paint… to make something even better than before, not to give up…”

“If I knew exactly what I was going to paint in the next minute why would I want to do that?”

— Lucian Freud, quoted in Breakfast with Freud by Geordie Greig, page 10 & page 213

Not knowing exactly what you’re going to do next isn’t the same as not having a good idea of what you’re going to do next. It leaves room for possibilities and change, for letting the painting and subject suggest things to you and responding rather than sticking rigidly to a path determined before you picked up the brush.

If you do have a specific thought about what you’re going to do but then the painting suggests something else, follow it to see where to leads. You can always go back to what you’re originally thought to do (writing a note in a sketchbook helps remembering what it was!).

14 Replies to “Monday Motivator: Keep Striving”

  1. Do you remember your Dad’s little mantra as taught to him as a child:
    “Good, better, best
    Never ever rest
    Till your good is better
    And your better best”

    or as we would say: try, try, try again.

  2. I do indeed! Another variation I know is related to journalism: “You’re only as good as your last story.”

  3. That is exactly my problem at this moment: I cannot end up a particular painting because I know perfectly what to add in. I find that issue not stimulative at all because “I know the path to follow” that would allow me to reach the solution! And everyday when I wake up, I go and see the provoking canvas in front of me, so indifferent to my distress! And I say to myself: “well, Alain, it’s so easy to do… You know the process: take your brushes, prepare your palette and go!” But I whisper: “later later, I am too tired now… It is not so crucial to paint… after all”. Am I really an artist? Profuse sweating suddenly takes over me.
    I prefer to say that there is a word I dislike and do not pronounce! I am sure you know, Marion and Natalya, what barbaric word I am talking about (five syllables)?

  4. You are an artist and the way you can paint is beyond many people’s dreams. But that’s part of the problem; you need to find a new challenge for you, new aspects to teach yourself, move beyond repeating yourself.

    This might lie in composition, for instance in more complex compositions with an increasing number of elements both from reality and imagination (e.g. Richard Dadd’s “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke”. Or moving away from realism by working with a style like Schiele’s (his house paintings) applied to the buildings of Paris — a bit like small brushwork carefully done but using the ‘wrong’ hand so the line wobbles.

    1. I shall learn your last advice by heart, Marion, and study Egon Shiele and Richard Dadd. Thanks. Yes I feel I need a wobbling state to go further in painting. (The “barbaric” word: Procrastination…)

      1. Painting research is not procrastination :-) Make notes, dissect paintings, look at the mark making, do thumbnails of compositions… find elements you particularly like and then use them in a painting of your own.

        1. In fact, an authentic artist must be basically like a research worker, an explorer. So “routine” and monotony seem to be the enemies of the creative painter?

          1. Indeed, Allain the “art consistency” requirement can transform creative process into routine and cause procrastination. Self discipline does not help much when the task is just to paint 20 pictures with such subject in such stule.

          2. But I cannot understand how so many painters become…”daily painters”! How many painters paint each day a new (small) paintings and show them on their blog sites! I do not really understand how they succeed on doing that! A new kind of artists, reminding of Van Gogh example? A compulsive obsessive disorder? Passion? Inner motivation? A job as so many other jobs that compel people to go and work everyday to earn their life? When I think of Vermeer who painted around thirty paintings in his whole life… Bad example because Vermeer was rich before he began to paint. So perhaps a Stakhanovism-like effect invades artistic websites nowadays?

          3. Allain! I think it depends on style and medium. Vermeer’s technology supposed about 4 years to finish a painting just because of drying time for 7 layers and intermediary lake. Acrylics permit to perform the same excersise in 7 hours. I mean technology. Ayvazovskiy used to paint his marinas in oils during couple of hours, and even his huge canvas took about 10 days to complete. Nobody knows how many thousands of masterpieces he painted. He defenitely was not insane, he just made it a matter of business not just art.
            Once I tried to paint painting a day under Marion’s project. I concidered it as a kind of maturity exam and painted 28 paintings of different size within 28 days. But… they were painted in different styles and colour schemes. I would hardly ever finish them using the same layout scheme (like Pharaoh). It would be bo-o-o-ring. I assume that this heretic idea “to accomodate style to object” has nothing to do with art business with its clients expectation. Still IMHO it permits to avoid rotine and procrastination.

          4. Very few daily painters sustain it… ending up in the “produce anything” rather than “produce quality” trap. And quite a few are “paint every day” rather than “finish a painting every day” people. Always take a look at the size of the paintings too; many are tiny.

    1. Love your painting and very interested in the process you describe. I hope that it does really well in the exhibition.

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