Sunday, 26 April 2009
In February 2009, I was working on a painting that was to be entered in an exhibition. The challenge was, to select a painting from a list of master artist and do our own interpretation of it. I selected a still life from the impressionist painter Monet.
In doing so, several attempts were made on the same surface. When things were not going well, I sanded the work back to the essentials. But, each time they were nearing completion. Why did I do this? The painting was just not working for me. The decision of how to approach the painting kept changing. I now realize that if I treated each attempt separately, I would now have a progression of studies or even sketches to look back on and use as a learning tool.
As the deadline neared the painting had to be finished. It also occurred to me that I could have completed several paintings in the time it took me to produce the final piece. By treating each painting individually I would have had three or four pieces to select from, and not be forced to send in the only completed piece.
During this time, while looking through paintings by Monet, I noticed he often produced several versions of the same study. One example would be “The Façade of the Rouen Cathedral” (1892 – 1894). What he did was to take things beyond. He produced more than 30 works of this cathedral on canvas. Each was created independently and simultaneously. As the weather and the seasons started to change the paintings of the works created varied in the use of light, atmosphere, mood, etc. You will be able to find some examples of the painting here: http://www.learn.columbia.edu/monet/swf/
Yes, we learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we can get so caught up in producing the one painting it can become an unhealthy exercise. When we struggle in our search for perfection we can loose sight to what is important. Just relax and enjoy the process.