|See what I mean about her paint handling?|
Hortense* has been my painting student since the very beginning. I haven’t taught in my own studio since last spring, so when she came to class on Saturday, I had a fresh perspective about her painting.
She handles paint as well as I do, and she draws beautifully. Given a plein air or still life assignment, she can draw several iterations, come up with an arresting composition, lay down a brilliant underpainting, and finish it with lovely highlights, all in the time it takes most students to crank out a decent sketch.
She hates when I tell her this, since she thinks it’s empty flattery, but it’s absolutely true.
|A three-hour still life by the same student.|
However, at hour 2.5, Hortense frequently self-destructs. She decides she hates some aspect of the painting, start mushing the paint back and forth to correct a problem that isn’t there, and in the space of the last half hour of the class will push her work backwards to the level she imagined was there in the first place. I find it as frustrating as she does, because I think she could be a great painter if she could just get past this.
I reject the notion that you can “overwork” a painting. That’s a modern conceit that leads to many half-baked paintings. You simply must battle through whatever phase is hanging you up. However, I’m starting to think that Hortense’s problem isn’t a painting problem at all, but a conceptual one, that maybe she needs to be imbuing her paintings with some of the Big Ideas that drive her.
Any suggestions, my fellow painters?
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!
*If you’re gonna give someone an alias, it may as well be an entertaining one.