A Moment in Time

I have had people ask me, what draws you to a subject?  Why do you paint what you do?  What inspires you?

As an introvert, I think on these questions often, and sometimes the answer changes.  Sometimes it is a vision I’ve seen in my mind that needs to be expressed.  Sometimes an image in real life when I’m shaking my head and saying, “No one would ever believe this is real if I painted it…”

Most often though, what I paint is an expression of the ephemeral qualities of life, a moment in time.  The drawing above is a prime example.  I sat on this photograph for years.  I knew I wanted to draw him, and I also knew that I didn’t have the skills at that point in time.  So what I did, is to draw my way through 4 drawing books, 3 by Andrew Loomis and another fellow (I’ll have to look it up since it isn’t coming to me at the moment) until I felt comfortable approaching this image.

To me, this photograph of a man was a window into his soul.  I didn’t want to do the drawing until I knew I could do it justice, and express what I saw there.  The most amazing thing to me about this whole thing is that I thought I could do it!

Finish or Not?

The first caveat is, paintings are never done. Every painting I’ve “finished” could have used more work in my opinion.  A week, a month, or a year later, I’ll figure out how to fix something that was nagging me, or finally understand what bothered me about a painting, and I have to let it go.  Every painting I have finished that I didn’t like, has found a buyer, and usually quicker than I ever imagined.  There is a serious lesson in that statement.  Just because I’m not happy with it, doesn’t mean someone else won’t fall in love with it.  I’ve heard about artists destroying paintings they have done that they didn’t like. They didn’t want it to be part of their legacy, because it wasn’t good enough. So I did that, with one painting that I never even finished, and I still regret it.

The way I see it, all the paintings I’ve done helped me to develop into the artist I am today.  I destroyed one thing so far, and it was years later that I wish I hadn’t. Looking at that painting in progress taught me about mass in painting, and the folly of painting what you think is there. There may be times when you want to do that, don’t get me wrong, that’s about style, and about a conscious choice in breaking “the rules”.   However, when it is an isolated component of the painting, (and not what you intended) then it doesn’t work.

 

I fell in love with the stonework in this wall, and spent lavish care on each rock. Only when I stepped back after hours of work, did I realize that the entire wall didn’t fit in the painting. I had outlined each stone in black.  Now, I know I should have given it a chance rather than seeing it as a failure. Now I look at this and I see multiple ways I could have finished this painting and made it work, so much so that I’m thinking of painting this again.  This is a rock wall in Kainaliu that was destroyed during an earthquake.

How did I get where I am today with my artwork?  Each painting teaches me something.  Every painting is a success because any painting I do propels me forward in my craft.  The more painting I do, the better craftsman I become.  I would be the last to put myself on a pedestal.  I don’t belong there, any more than anyone else.  I’m mostly self-taught, and these paintings are all a record of my journey.  This is why I still have my flickr site.  It keeps me humble!  Almost everything I have ever done since I started painting is on that site, and as I find missing pieces, I add them.  No, flickr doesn’t go back to my childhood, just to when I began my art journey.