Sunday, May 23, 2010
Are artists ever satisfied?
Geranium Garden (detail)
Original oil painting 12x16"
by Susan Roux
I visited Rahina Q.H.'s site this morning and she admitted destroying a lot of her paintings during the past few weeks. It reminded me of a conversation I just had yesterday with artist/friend, Sandy Dunn.
Is an artist ever satisfied?
Sandy thought yes. Masters who know exactly how to capture what they want to convey and are in total control, must be satisfied. As we talked further on the subject, we were both left really wondering.
I recently did a painting and got to the point where the canvas was covered and appeared complete. It struck me because, years ago I would have been very satisfied with my achievement. Now however, I was not. There was a feeling I'd set out to capture that wasn't present. I contemplated for a few days trying to decide how to continue. I did return to the canvas, improving the feeling, but wishing I had nailed it better.
We discussed this. As an artist improves, does his or her expectations increase? And if so, will we ever be satisfied? Or... do the artist's expectations continue to increase at an equal rate to their seasoned ability, never allowing satisfaction?
I think we'll never be satisfied.
That's not to say there won't be a few paintings along the way that we are happy with. It just seems to me the further I get in this art world, the more I try to push myself and the less I feel satisfied with my work. Perhaps this on-going tug is what propels us. What drives us. Dare I say, sometimes insanely, to create and capture that which we have never achieved. I seem to want to be in control. I feel I should be in control. But too often, I feel like I don't even know what I'm doing!
Painting is hard.
I think it will always be hard. No matter how seasoned an artist we become. Yes, we'll figure out some things and be in control of those. But we'll always want to be in control of more. Like a crazy carnival ride that has us feeling like were flying by the seat of our pants, each painting gives us that same exhilarating rush. We're forever addicted to this seemingly idle activity, that really has our insides jumping and twisted completely out of control!
Sandy and I painted outdoors for the first time this year. Relaxed in the haven of my garden, we both found ourselves anxious. Forgetting how to paint in plein air fell upon our shoulders... Each year it seems occur. How to incorporate what we've learned in the studio during the past year, to the outdoors. It was less scary doing it together. Sandy and I are good for each other. Encouragement eased the anxiety.
Posted is a close-up of the painting I did. Here is the full painting.
The detail version was my favorite part of the painting. I decided to try another capturing that dreamy feeling. This is the outcome.
I want to attempt a third, using the top version as my guide. It will be interesting to see if I can achieve this feeling again... (note: the harsh visible darks are only present in the photos.)
Are we ever satisfied?
Perhaps the real question should be, "Do we ever stop learning?" And the answer is, "I don't think we do."