Struggling to remember how to paint….yet again

Struggling to remember how to paint….yet again

My students are often surprised when I tell them that I am struggling with a painting. There are two things I’d like to say about struggling:

1. If there is no struggle then the painting will appear lifeless, cold, routine, average, dull, and probably worthless, IMHO. Struggling, with either an idea or the execution thereof, is why artists do what we do. If it were easy we would be bored. Which is why, sometimes, artists change direction, sometimes drastically, and veer off our “certain” paths (sometimes to the disgruntlement of gallerists), engaging ourselves in something that will get the old adrenalin flowing again. It’s known as “taking risks” in art speak, and it is always recommended by artists and poo-poo’d by the money handlers. (I’m not just talking about visual art but any artistic endeavor worth its salt.)

2. If my studio practice were more disciplined, some of my struggles would be eliminated – at least the ones that have to do with technique and not concept. I. Just. Am. Not. In. The. Studio. Enough. Hopefully if I were more disciplined I would still make art that challenges me conceptually — makes me “struggle” to find its voice, but remembering how to get that one color that works as a shadow on a little boy’s face wouldn’t be so difficult. I just allow myself to be distracted easily, and so haven’t built a solid habit around getting my arse into the studio on a daily basis. As always, I need to fix that – sooner rather than later, for a lot of complicated reasons.

So, I am struggling with this painting (or did, since, remember, I am cheating here – since this phase of the painting actually happened some weeks ago). I am struggling technically, as well as conceptually. One is good, the other, avoidable. But here tis:

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