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"Eighteen" Oil on Linen on Panel
It’s all in our heads
This leads to another issue: the way we think about each painting. If we view each attempt as a potential “masterpiece,” the painting becomes too precious…and we become too timid. Better to think of it as a study…a way to practice and improve our skill set.
If you steal ideas from one person, it’s plagiarism; if you take from many, it’s research. I encourage students to try any approach or technique that seems in the least bit intriguing. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll ruin a piece of paper or canvas. For example, I read an article about “dayturnes” – daytime pieces that were altered to make them look like they were done at night. Hollywood routinely shoots night sequences in broad daylight then lowers the value, changes the overall color to blue-green, reduces the saturation, and increases the contrast…voila, a night scene. Another arrow in the quiver! Here’s my experiment dayturne, “Midnight on the Bayou.” Another arrow in the quiver! Never be afraid to try new things!
Try subjects, media, or techniques that are out of your comfort zone. I often speak to artists who are only comfortable in one lane: They only do portraits, they only do landscapes, they only do pastels, they only do oils...you get the picture. I feel for these artists because so often, it's really a fear of the unknown that is holding us back. As Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." When asked how to become a great portrait painter, John Singer Sargent replied (and I paraphrase), "First, become a great painter, then worry about portraits." The great masters painted everything: figures, landscape, and still lifes…maybe that’s why they became Masters.
This brings us to my final point. The 10,000-hour rule. To master anything, it takes that many hours of practice. So paint or draw the same way the Chicago machine votes – “Early and often!”
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