-Don't Limit Your Imagination-
What can we learn about the idealism of french academic painters?
I know some of you out there enjoy the excitement of a Pollock over the victorian ideals, and it may surprise you that I have studied more De Kooning than David. When I was a teenager, I was actually fascinated by artists who cared more about the idea behind the painting than the actual painting. Go ahead and check out my deviant art from way back when. It's worth a good laugh now as I look back, but what I was learning was that a painting has to be something more than what I get from reality. Trying to capture challenging concepts like senses are what still intrigue me. Now it is more about the subtle expression of a gaze, but it will always be about telling a story.
So why did I make the transition to more academic work? The answer is that a form of academic idealism mastered by the french academics challenged my skill level as well as my intellectual level. To paint a scene imagined from sketch to finished product and to have it transcend anything possible on this earth is what drew me to artists like Caravaggio all the way through Pollock and Rothko. To paint the idea, means more to me than anything else. Getting a perfect vision inside the artist's mind should be the point of art. And I think nowadays many artists get caught up on the technique. You could spend many life-times focusing on technique. But if you are trying to translate a vision, a story, a memory, or anything then technique is subservient to that.
Don't be seduced by a beautiful line. Don't limit your imagination by what is here on earth.
I've been hanging some of my older paintings around and really having a good look at them. They're not very old, maybe 2 or 3 years, but my perception of them has really changed. Being far enough removed from some of the paintings on a time scale is finally giving me a new appreciation for most of them. Even some of my old sketchbooks that I would have gladly burned upon completion are looking better as the years pass. I used to have to hide paintings from myself after completion so I wouldn't be tempted to paint over them. As I gain more experience, I look back with more fondness.
I threw out a many paintings and drawings earlier in the summer, but the paintings that I kept and admire are stepping stones for me as I continue.
Application of acquired knowledge is the most fun you can have and the fastest way to progress. Like in many situations and fields, to be successful means to maintain a harmony.
So Why do you always hear about the tortured artist? It's because artists get caught up in the cycle of learning and applying. As artists progress, the weight of acquiring knowledge tends to outweigh the application of knowledge. It is really easy to fall under the spell of staring at gorgeous paintings by great painters and then think to yourself, "I'll never be able to paint like that." Well, you are right if you continue staring down the long road of master painters who all decided to pick up the brush at some point. And those artists in the museums that you love looking at---they picked up the brush everyday and made bad paintings. But you have to learn to balance the bad with the good. To spend time thinking and time doing. One cannot exist without the other.
Read the color charts, and then put them away because the cycle of knowledge versus application needs to be like a swing going back and forth. Going back and gaining knowledge and going forward with the brush. After you read this, do a drawing-- then read some more and draw some more.
I've been having a ton of fun recently, doing a lot of painting and not worrying about how I paint. It's very freeing with my new philosophy (or rather, an old philosophy that I am rediscovering). I really used to not care at all about anything except creating a drawing or painting that pleases me. And I believe I've done some of my best work with this mentality. No one can tell me that my medium isn't right or the palette I use is wrong, because I know I'm capable as a painter either way. Enough worrying about how you do things or why, do what you want. I saw my old cat sitting my the front door, so I did this quick pastel sketch. I like it and that's what matters.
You may see also that I have taken some paintings down from my website and reorganized some things also. Some of that old work isn't what I am truly about as an artist. Stay tuned for new work and new paintings that are coming straight from my heart. So don't play by the rules, do work that pleases you. Avoid the manipulation that is so tempting. But also don't manipulate others. Don't even listen to me.