Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Is Representational Oil Painting So Difficult--Revised Version

Painting is difficult because it requires that you see  everything in relation to everything else and paint it so.  There it is-- pure and simple.  Those who paint everything in relation to everything else paint well--those who can't or refuse to paint everything in relation to everything else paint pieces of things.  They paint the trees, but not the forest--they paint the fleas, but not the dog.  They are interested in eye lashes, but not the structure of the boney prominences that surround the eye cavity and create beautiful light planes.  They jump to painting highlights before establishing the large shapes and planes that lead up to the brightest light planes or "highlights".

In short, they seldom connect the dots, they never see the big picture, they can only take in what is immediately in front of them--they have no peripheral vision that allows them to see how things are interrelated.  Their canvas has no harmony of shape, no conversation of color, no direction that grips the soul.  They express no faith. They have no story to tell. They are satisfied with selling pathetic little postcards with their name on it.  They almost never get it--they don't see, they don't hear, they don't even smell the ink on the morning newspaper!  They don't serve art--their art serves them. I am projecting my own confession--this is the mood that has possessed me lately.  I need a big picture, I need to connect the dots, and so on and so forth, and so what!  Thought you should know.  Who loves ya?--how do ya like me now?--come on!!  Don


  1. Oh My . . . . you're tough, Don. But you're good for my soul and I appreciate your honesty. Keep up your good works and sending out the message.

  2. I'm not tough--I just wanted to see if anybody was still out there. I take everything back--is it too late? I hope that the readers understand that I am describing a universal tendency and not anybody in particular--did I make that clear?

  3. Don,
    You made that very clear. But I was a bit worried before I got to the third paragragh. Thank you, I wanted to post it on my blog so my students could read it, but really it's me who needed to hear it. One more time....

  4. Nora and Randy: I re-wrote the post, because upon re-reading the first one--I was really embarassed. I calmed down--better?

  5. Still here. Didn't see the first version. I took this one to mean "They is You." ;^)
    Your coaching has added greatly to my understanding and goals, if not yet my performance.

  6. Ok tuff guy, I'm taking off my clown nose...and
    my clown feet..put'em up..put'em up! Oops, my pants just fell down.
    Paint that Donny boy!(ha) Still getting to know ya!

  7. I kind of liked the ramped-up, amped-up version. Either way you left the nuts and bolts oil painting teaching intact. That's I appreciate from you. That's what I need to hear. I know, you need another blog! You can call it Behind the Tapestry where you load your wrist rocket with marbles and rotten eggs let fly at anything that moves. No guilt, no 'pologies. Hell, maybe I'll do that!

  8. Bill and Craig: Thanks for giving a damn--I'm so glad you guys are out there! Real art is done in community--right? Humble Don

  9. It just occurred to me that I have 5 commissioned (sp. ck.)-- paintings to do, and I am in a deep funk--If Ray Kinstler will award me first place in the Salon Show at Greenhouse this weekend--that will help--I can go play golf and get my head straight--does Jesus care? I need at least a $750.00 cash prize to cover shipping and framing. I guess I shouldn't talk about it. O well...Don--at 63 its time I won a prize or two--don't ya think?

  10. Ah yes, the deep funk. It seems to show up just when your plate is full.
    Is that what they call a handicap?(golf term :)
    What would Jesus do? Does he care?
    Throw your bread on the water, discuss it with him. I would find out those questions Don!
    I hope you win every prize out there, you're a
    prize too!

  11. Yo Bill: I won $100.00 in Texas, so I am now on the road to financial recovery with this massive infusion of cash. Thanks for your prayers for my rather lost soul these days--I need a chew and a few tee times. I want to meet you some day and kick your ass--your words to me always make me smile, brother--Always, Don

  12. Don, your words ring true. I want to "get it", really "get it". But some days it's like I wake up and forget how to paint entirely. Why is that?
    I'm on about week three of "can't do a thing right".
    My dog still loves me. Even better, my God still loves me. And all of you too. I guess everything else pales by comparison.
    And I hope that $100 gets multiplied 100 times!

  13. Don, I want you to stop pulling your punches. Tell us what you really think. I know you are hardest on youself.... but what you say is true.