Friends, thank you to everyone who came out to the Holiday Open Studio last Friday! The night was such a fun way to catch up, share some art and toast the future!
This week I am back to work on holiday commissions. I've told you before how I love the challenge of finishing art under the pressure of a deadline. There is nothing like slapping on the last few brushstrokes, and crossing my fingers that a painting is dry enough to ship in the morning. I relish that adrenaline, but every holiday season I run up against the same problem.
A painting sings when it strikes that perfect balance between giving 'too much' and 'not enough' information. There is a temptation when working on depictions of real people or places for someone else though, to include more detail than necessary. The subconscious thought process goes something like this: "Mrs. X wants me to paint a portrait of her son, therefore I must be accountable for every last one of his eyelashes and freckles."
|John Singer Sargent: master of the subtle portrait
Of course this logic is completely ridiculous! A person or place is more than the sum total of its parts. The job of the artist is to shift through mountains of visual information and re-present/highlight only the most important or interesting details.
|Richard Diebenkorn had a genius for conveying the simple. The importance of that cardamon orange plane against the cobalt sky would be completely lost if he had made this a painting about details.
Reading this article from the Greater Good blog, I was struck by words to that effect:
(A)n author/artist used his or her skills to convey much with little—to articulate a complicated human condition in a few words, to relay reams of information in a few pictures, to turn a single memorable mental image into a take-it-with-you tool for understanding the soul and navigating change. And that, I suspect, may be the key takeaway for generating and sharing insights: it’s about finding a simple way to help a reader, an audience, a fellow human being make sense of complex things.
I've been awful about posting, but next week I promise to share a few "complex things" that I've broken down a bit!