Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dear Emily, And the Answer Is -

Dear Emily, your comment on my last post got me to thinking about how to answer to your question.

What have I learned? How do I work smarter? And how to translate that into something for you?

©2014 Patricia Scarborough 18x24 Oil 
Still talking my way through it...
My thoughts go back to a conversation I had with an Experienced Artist. I held up my end of the conversation by complaining about a painting; I lost the center of interest, the color is too intense, I don’t know what to do, ad nauseum. My goal, if I must be honest, was to pry some of his experience from him, and for his end of the conversation to contain magic formulas to fix my painting’s woes.

That’s the way it works, right? The student sits passively by while the instructor, well, instructs. Or rather, makes the decisions, does the thinking, shares the recipe for success. I hoped for - expected - an easy 3-step program; do this, this and this and presto! Your painting is lovely! Congratulations, and here is your purple ribbon!

My Experienced Artist friend didn’t do that. After I listed all my woes - quite clearly I might add, so he’d know exactly how to fix them - his response was this: “Okay, well, now you know how to fix it”.

Or, as David Bayles and Ted Orland wrote in "Art and Fear":
“What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece.”

In other words, everything you need to know is right there before you. 

This problem is yours to wrestle with. 

So, my sweet Emily, I can’t give you the magic recipe that will lead to purple ribbons and adoration of the masses. I can tell you that it’s up to you to gauge your satisfaction with a project; to think, really think, about that last thing you did. That’s where the answers lie…lay…are.

If it helps, I’ll admit that I talked out loud. I stood before a painting that had lost its way (okay, okay, I lost my way) and listed out loud the points of frustration - not to berate myself, but to validate the fact that I could identify what was wrong – and could then identify how to fix it. I’m pretty smart once I put my mind to it.

I lost the center of interest.  Find it again. Reestablish the focal point. Pick the spot.

The color is too intense.  Grab a color wheel. Learn how to mix more subtle colors. Think more carefully about where to put them.

I don’t know what to do! Yes you do. Yes   you   do. What excited you at first? Do that.

You know in your heart what to do Emily. Do that.
(Smooches back atcha babe.)


Karine Swenson said...

I love these last two posts! Process revealed, unraveled. Tough love for ourselves as artists. No, the answers don't come from someone else - unless you want to cheapen the experience and do the work of another. No, we must do our own work, make our own discoveries, and teach ourselves. Nicely written, Patty, dear. And the two paintings featured are lovely. New color palette for you, it seems. ? xo

Patty said...

Karine my Sweet!! Your response warms my heart. Thank you for getting it. And yes, to make things even more challenging I did put some new colors on my palette. What a mind bender!

Lynne said...

Well now my two girlie girls, met those several years ago in Alyson's class.... this is a great exchange and useful to me because I am doing an Artists Salon on Critiquing your own work in a few weeks. I will include this very important point.

Patty said...

Lynne!! Good to hear from you. Alyson Stanfield's class was invaluable wasn't it?
Enjoy your class, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Emily said...

Love, love, LOVE this. I DO know what to do, I just gotta do it

Patty said...

You got it. The hardest thing to do is lead ourselves. We can be uncooperative students to ourselves. You'll be fab-yoo-lous!
Love the tiara, by the way.

Sheila Orr said...

Wow,this post really made me stop and think. It is so true, everything you need to know is right there! A quick fix is something that everyone wishes for. You just have to go through the process, and be proud that you are trying. Thank you for such a thought provoking post.

Patty said...

Sheila, I'm so glad my thoughts struck a chord with you. Like Emily said, we just gotta DO it!