“Perfectionist” is not a word used to describe me. If I get the job done in a satisfactory and efficient manner, I am happy. Usually. Until now.
I want each painting I create to be better than the last. And if I don’t think it is, I am grumpy until I produce another, better one. It’s like I’m in an acrimonious competition with myself.
Here’s a question for you: is a painting good because the artist thinks it is good or because the audience thinks it is good? I like to think that any artwork that promotes an emotional reaction in the viewer has succeeded.
That’s my highbrow answer. My focus-group based, prime-ministerial, populist answer, is that I think my work is good if it gets a lot of Facebook Likes.
Validation is comforting.
Cut to me in the studio wrestling with my latest child portrait painting…
As I near the end of this painting I realise that I haven’t chosen the best reference picture – there’s too much shadow on the face. I battle with myself to improve it (“only a poor workman blames his tools”) and feel disheartened when I realise that I still haven’t bettered “Girl in Pink”. I publish it on Facebook with trepidation. Ruby’s mum says WOW! Yay!
But no Likes. None!* Painting fail?
Looking at it on my easel, I don’t think so. I think it’s quite lovely. But I still want to beat “Girl in Pink”, dammit!
So here we go again with the preliminary sketch – looks promising so far.
Blocking in some darks for the eyes and hair.
And we’re at the scary stage…. skip ahead if you’re eating…
Phew… back to human again
More detail and more colour
And Ruby is finished. I find it very difficult to take a final photo which accurately reflects the colour. In natural light, it is too blue; artificial light, too yellow; with a flash either washed out or harsh. And because paintings are so much about colour, I find this frustrating!
Anyway, here is Ruby taken with a flash:
And here she is without a flash:
The reality is somewhere in between… and a whole lot better!
*Okay – I have one Like now. 🙂