Friday, April 11, 2008

8 x 12 Oil on Panel

One of the things I love most about painting is that, like music, you can continue grow and develop till death do you part. You don't just learn to play the violin and that's that. Jascha Heifetz didn't like recording because, he said, "In 5 or 10 years I will play a piece differently." So it is with painting. Once you understand the principles and are able to produce a respectable picture then you are ready to start painting. Gradually you stop being a painter and start being an artist. Facility creeps into your drawing and brushwork and you struggle more and more with expression, substance, communication, emotion, or in the case of some schools, eliminating emotion. When I sat down to paint Peppers however I knew exactly what I wanted to say and had the facility to say it boldly, crisply, succinctly. It was finished in a single sitting of less than 2 hours. Delightful, splendid. Sometimes at openings I'm asked how long it took me to paint a particular piece. As I try to force my clenched teeth into a smile I explain that artists are not paid an hourly wage, if they were the inept amateur would demand far higher prices than a master. Then I relax and tell the story of Whistler v. Ruskin. Ruskin didn't much care for Whistler's "daubs" and, making reference to Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, accused him of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." Whistler sued for libel. When he was on the stand, Whistler was questioned on the amount of time it took to finish the painting. When he replied that it took only a couple of days, the defense asked if two days of work was worth the 200 guinea price of the piece. Whistler replied, “No. I ask it for the knowledge I have gained in the work of a lifetime”.....

1 comment:

Karen Winslow said...

Hey Tom...wonderful peppers and I love Whistler's statement, too.