Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The endless journey

Warm Breeze
Original oil painting 20x16"
by Susan Roux

An artists journey is an interesting one to say the least. As we progress down the many winding roads of this journey, we come to realize that the end of the journey only exists if we choose to stop. Otherwise the journey is endless. Meaning that the more we know, the more we discover or are educated about art, the more we realize that there is still further to go. I don't care how masterful an artist may be, there is always more to learn.

I've been very fortunate this past year. I've seen my art evolve through experimentation and hard work. For those of you who follow me, you also know this improvement is due in large part to Don Hatfield. He has been a constant who keeps me focused and stimulated by opening my eyes to things I hadn't yet observed on my own.

If you can't see it, you can't paint it.

I repeat this phrase over and over. I feel a vision needs to exist, whether in our minds or through our eyes. Until you observe the light and the shadow, you cannot paint the light and the shadow. The same is true for all aspects of painting. If you can't see it or don't have the ability to break down what it is exactly that you're observing, it is impossible to replicate it in paint.

I'm not just referring to the representation of objects in one's work. I'm also referring to the emotion an artist has towards these objects. In fine art, it isn't simply representation that is necessary. It isn't only about a pretty picture. Fine art also captures emotion.

The emotion we capture is created by many factors. Color, brushstroke and values play a huge part. But a vision or understanding of the emotion you wish to portray needs to be present. Without the vision, the idea, it will not happen.

And so it goes... This is the great mystery, the giant labyrinth that we call the artist journey. It's a combined mesh of skill, observation and emotion. The variables are endless making the combination of the parts endless as well. So where are you on this journey?

I ran across an excerpt today by Barry John Raybould in his Virtual Art Academy. It opened my eyes to a level that I've yet to discover. It's perhaps a direction I'll need to focus on if I want to continue improving. But it seems a difficult step, so don't be expecting too much in this direction from me yet... Here is the excerpt.

Old master artists knew how to suggest a lot of detail without actually rendering it. Look closely at any of John Singer Sargent's paintings and you will notice that an elegant dress is no more than a series of abstract brushstrokes. If you make your viewers exercise their own imagination, you stimulate them to contribute their own thoughts and images to the work and become a participant in the experience. If you depict everything to make it look like a photograph, you leave nothing up to the imagination of the viewer. The other big advantage of the principle of suggestion is that once again you can say more with less, simplifying and strengthening the abstract design of your painting.

The abstract he refers to in John Singer Sargent's dresses is more than just a loose stroke. It's also a combination of loose color. Both of these combined creates the abstracts he speaks about that stimulate the viewer's imagination. Phew, do I have your head spinning yet? Mine is.

The endless journey... I wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. Thought provoking...sometimes the simplest approach is the best. Your work is beautiful. Loving the beach paintings.

  2. je partage tout à fait votre vision et opinion sur l'Art et la façon de le concevoir quand vous dites"C'est le grand mystère, le labyrinthe géant que nous appelons le voyage artiste. Il s'agit d'un maillage de compétences combinées, d'observation et d'émotion. Les variables sont infinies qui rend la combinaison des parties sans fin ainsi. Alors, où vous vous trouvez sur ce voyage?"
    Merci car je crois que pour beaucoup c'est tout à fait cela !
    Très belles expressions des émotions ressenties dans vos compositions et toute l'intensité sen dégage, c'est pour cela que j'aime votre travail!

  3. Wow! you have written about an artist's journey, but anybody who is not an artist in the real sense too can relate to your statements. It is everybody's journey. So you ask us "where are you on this journey"?
    I say that, I too am on the journey called life, discovering many things on the way, and looking forward to unravelling new ways to view my world, taking time to appreciate the beauty around me. And I do this in the simplest way: I just stop and look.
    I agree with the Old Master artists, that there should be plenty of room for imagination, and interpretation, that everything need not be put in Black& White.
    Another thing in which you are very correct, is unless we know the darkness we will never know what is light.
    Susan you are not only a good painter, but also a very good writer.
    I always love reading your art related blogs

  4. Very nice Susan. As you know I don't know much about art but I do know what I like and I love your paintings :-)

  5. I, too, enjoy Raybould's lessons...

    This is a lovely painting!

  6. Susan, je vous remercie d'être venue me retrouver sur 'weekend Abstrait' et merci pour votre joli commentaire! (je passe souvent vous voir avec mon premier blog 'weekend et coup de brosse'c'est toujours moi!
    bises cath.
    Bonne journée.

  7. C'est très joli, Suzan. Tu es une grand peintre impressionniste!

  8. I wish I could print out this valuable post, Susan!!! I run around changing styles in midstream! When this happens with me it is time for a change. I had e-mail from Catherine Jeffrey and she offered some very good advice too. I think there are a few answers in your words! This is a lovely lady without superfluous detail!

  9. I'm not sure why, but my thoughts immediately when to pointillism. I know. I'm a nut job. At any rate, Susan, this is yet another gorgeous beach beauty! I often find myself wondering at what she is thinking, is she sad, is she happy, is she just letting go of the cares of the world and glorying in just splashing through the shallows? I am hoping it is the latter for we all need to do just that at times.

  10. This is such a good post. Thank you so much for sharing it. The things you talked about are the very things I need to work on with my own art. And this painting is so beautiful. I wish I owned it!

  11. Nous serons éternellement des pseudo élèves de la peinture... à la recherche de notre propre intimité que l'on voudrait voir conjuguer avec les mots lumière, couleurs et sensibilité...
    Après chacun pourra se l'approprier en l'interprétant à sa propre réceptivité...
    Gros bisous

    Une nouvelle que je ne connaissais pas et que tu me cachais !

  12. Hi Susan.this painting is very nice,you have captured it so well.great, ben

  13. So delightfully lovely! You are very talented!

  14. I taught on emotions in our writing this past week--your journey is so similar to mine--we need to find those emotions and bring them out in our work. You do!

  15. beautiful painting and a beautiful post!

  16. Hi Susan, I think your figurative paintings have many Sargent-like qualities. The light is wonderful as is your brushstroke. Just lovely.

  17. This has such a pleasant feeling. I can tell that you felt a connection with this subject. Everything is rendered tenderly. Makes me want to kick off my shoes and find a beach.

  18. Beautiful...Beautiful painting.


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