Friday, December 17, 2010

Artists journey

Gardner's Home
Original oil painting 18x14"
by Susan Roux

Where has your art journey taken you?

I was reading Kevin Mizner's post this morning and he talked about the artist's journey, well mostly his own... He made the statement, "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know, and how much more there is to know."

Wow. Now there's a loaded statement and it's so true.

Think back when you first started. Didn't you think painting was easy? Do you think you'd have started to paint if you'd actually known how far you had to go? It's one of those totally frustrating things. Like a cartoon mirage. Remember that desert oasis? You see where you want to go and you work towards it only to find when you get there, you're not there at all. You have a long way to journey still.

Art is one of those things that as soon as you get comfortable settling in or accepting your level of achievement as the final end, your work suddenly turns into formula painting and it automatically slips in reverse. Think about that for a minute...

I know you know artists who've done that exact thing. I won't mention any names, but even some of the greats of today have fallen prey to that terrible trap. The artists journey is one without an end. The desire to strive for improvement must remain throughout your life. Look at Monet. He pushed himself to the very end. Even blind, he continued to paint. Just before he lost his vision (those nasty chemicals. I hope you're taking precautions to protect yourself...) is when he did his best work. Why? Why were his nympheas so magnificent? He'd spent a lifetime pushing himself. He never settled into a comfortable place where he accepted his level of achievement.

I remember several years ago studying about color. I began to understand color at a level I didn't know existed. How wonderful to have your eyes opened anew to a subject that already excites you tremendously! Who would have known there was more? I certainly didn't. I floated around wanting to explode with joy and had no one to describe my new discovery to.

I've been trapped at a fairly stagnant level for a few years. Yes, there were some paintings that rose above the others, but mostly my work had flatlined. I didn't stop pushing. It seemed futile, but oddly something inside me kept telling me there was more. I listened. I was frustrated. I'd get discouraged. Still I pushed on believing there was more and if I continued trying, I'd achieve it. Now, just like the deeper knowledge of color that opened my eyes a few years back, I feel equipped with a new understanding of grays. Yes, I said grays.

I know it sounds dumb. Insignificant grays are anything but insignificant...

Suddenly I'm exploring like a child let loose in a giant toy store! Seriously, it's that kind of excitement. There is more too. A renewed realization that we aren't just portraying an image, but painting poetry, a passion, a vision of more than just objects. Suddenly I'm finding my work moving forward. I'm thrilled I never stopped pushing. Though the lulls are discouraging, the triumphs are exhilarating enough to compensate. I just want to explode on canvas.

I feel equipped with new tools of understanding and my journey continues. I know these new tools will take me forward for awhile. Forward in improvement, I hope. But I also know that in time it will flatline again. It's the journey. If I'm to be all I can be in this line of work, I know I mustn't ever get too comfortable. Luckily, though frustrating at times, it's also the excitement that drives me ever forward.

Don't you just love knowing it'll always be exciting? There'll always be more to learn and develop.

Have you fallen into the formula trap? It can be a tough rut to climb out of. May the new year ahead jolt you enough to push you out of your comfort zone and propel you forward in your journey. Allow yourself to be renewed in that childlike excitement of discovery. Don't stop pushing yourself. The rewards will amaze you.

Posted is the finished Gardner's Home. It was painted with a class, drying completely between sessions. I may revisit this scene on my own when I can paint wet on wet. I'd be interested to see the different results. I posted this work in progress on Oct. 29. Oddly it was the post where I introduced Kevin Mizner to you. I'm just noticing that. I wonder if that means anything?


  1. ¡Excelente pintura, Susan!
    La luz, el color, la pincelada maestra, el aire impresionista... Una delicia.

  2. This painting is absolutely gorgeous! It stopped me in my tracks while I was scanning down my blog list...just beautiful! And I know all about those "flatline" episodes. I refer to it as reaching a "plateau" and staying on it for a time before something kicks in and I start making upward progress again. Not allowing yourself to stay stuck is the secret and you have definitely found the way to keep yourself motivated.

  3. Susan, What a beautiful painting. Just love, love the light you have painted in. Nice blog post too. I am just getting started on my "journey" and have lots of learning to look forward to. Onward and upward ( I hope!)

  4. Love your post, Susan. I haven't been painting that long, and yes, I thought it would be so easy! But the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn! But the journey is fun!

    This painting is beautiful! Your shadows are awesome. To me, the shadows are what make the painting so successful. You did a terrific job of painting the flowers and doorway in the shadows. All that beautiful cool darkness makes the flowers in the sunshine really stand out. Awesome!

  5. Beautiful painting. I think some people sell very well in a certain style so don't want to change but there must be a balance, too. I enjoy following artists who are constantly evolving.

  6. Lovely painting, Susan. Nice blog too. Sometimes the best way to measure how far you've come in your journey is not by looking at how much you've left to travel, but buy how far you've come.

  7. une peinture fleurie , qui me fait souvenir l'été..
    ici grand froid et de la neige à vendre!

  8. Beautiful impressionist painting.
    Peace and colors!

  9. Hi, Susan. This is a lovely, lyrical painting. I just spent some time reading through your thoughful and thought provoking posts and want to thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  10. Je suis heureuse de pouvoir admirer cette peinture sur ton blog après avoir été séduite par elle via skype en cour de réalisation.
    Cette généreuse lumière la met en avant de la scène...

  11. Oh, I really want my steps to look like that! A lovely painting, Susan. And thank you for a thought provoking post!

  12. Wow Susan, this is lovely. You have really out done yourself. Very Impressive!!!

  13. This is a beautiful painting, Susan. The colors really sing and the whole thing is harmonious!!

    Love to read your thoughts...
    I remember as and educator hearing the phrase... we didn't know what we didn't know...

    The more we learn the more we know there is more to learn!!

    Happy holidays to you and yours.

  14. Susan..lovely painting...and your thoughts are so true. I think I want to try everything and so it seems I am all over the place..but I love reading about other artists and trying out new techniques. So I worry more about not being consistent!Still I do have fun. Thanks for your thoughts

  15. Superbe peinture ! vos couleurs sont pleine de lumières...magnifique!

  16. Absolutely beautiful!! And love your post as always.

  17. So inviting! I agree about grey, but who would have thought that when starting out. Coming to love the changes along the path (as long as there's a paintbrush in my hand!)

  18. such a very inviting and lovely painting and I like this lead in composition

  19. Such a beautiful painting! I want to walk right up those steps! Merry Christmas!

  20. This paintings has such beautiful light and contrast. Love the way they vivid colors of the flowers stand out against the shadows. I particularly love the wonderful shadow-play in the tree.

    Fabulous post too! Inspires me to stretch in the coming New Year. Thanks!

  21. I love those how those hot colours of the flowers stand out from the cool shadows. Really pop. As for continuing to learn with painting, I find it's a bit like running uphill - you need a plateau now and then to rest and enjoy the view, but you don't want to stop there too long. Looking forward to reading many more posts.

  22. Hey hey wow, this has so much glow in it, and those flowers in the left foreground really look as if they are moving, like a beautiful smear of light.

    It's hard to imagine your painting as stagnant. Looking at famous artists like the fauves as eg its interesting how those who work with outrageous colour often tone down their palettes after a while.

    Painting really colourfully is exhausting, where as painting tonally is a lot more relaxing maybe? Meditative?

    It's a great idea those pretoned canvases in your next post.

    Merry Christmas from Oz :)

  23. The effect of shadow upon the colors is brilliant! Beautiful painting.
    Yes, I have experienced the ups, downs, pitfalls, pratfalls, and plateaus in my artistic journey.

  24. Beautiful story and beautiful painting.... thanks for sharing :)


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