“…a painting should take precedence over its subject matter
“…the painter Jack Tworkov [said]: ‘To ask for paintings which are understandable to all people everywhere, is to ask of the artist infinitely less than what he is capable of doing.'”
— Edward Betts, “Master Class in Watermedia“, page 13 (affiliate link)
Betts goes on to say how important it is to develop “the finest technique possible” but that this is not the ultimate goal, it’s a means to an end, a point of departure.
There’s a tremendous satisfaction in realism — the close looking, the details, the technical challenges — but for me there also needs to be poetry mixed with the paint — colour, mark making, hand of the artist — and it not stop at “like a photo” real.
I think the ultimate goal is a painting that shows the world filtered through a particular person’s eyes and mind, not one that could have been done by a subset of artists. How do we get distinctive? As always, practise, curiosity, and persistence.