Thursday, 12 August 2010

Done to Death!

Time to reflect.

I am getting really blunt at telling people what I think about their work, whether it be on blogger, flickr or whatever in the comments section, but what would people rather hear? I would always rather people tell me my work is rubbish if they think so, providing they tell me why, than just say it's lovely sooner than run the risk of hurting my feelings. That doesn't help anyone. Some of the work I put up on the Internet I think is really quite poor, then when people come along and rave about it, it puzzles me so. Maybe I it's because I know what things are wrong with my own work and can't be bothered to fix it due to lost interest or inability, or simply the desire to just start something new.

Every day I spend a considerable amount of time looking at people's artwork on the Internet (what would we do without this marvelous invention?) studying their style and trying to gain more knowledge and different techniques. Trouble is, when you get to my age, it gets more difficult to learn new stuff, to retain it and even to stop losing it LOL! Do you know, I wrote a book a few years ago - it got published and amazingly I sold every copy, even though it is still listed on Amazon, but I have now forgotten much about what I wrote - really scary isn't it?

But to get back to artwork, well remember the art course I took earlier in the year? The class was full and I got to see how different people worked, what they were capable of and the work they produced. It soon became clear to me, who had real flare and who were, well really no-hopers. I know that's awful to say, but if you can't even draw easily, then you have no hope at painting or being an artist. To a certain extent, I believe that artists are born and not 'created' for want of a better word. Some of the 'students' (I still am of the old school where we would call them 'pupils' but we have to move with the times) were capable of some excellent work, but ruined much of what they did by either overworking a painting or fiddling with it till it was done to death! I can still hear our tutor shouting across the room "Fred(made up), put that brush down right now or you will overwork that painting!" I hadn't the heart to say what I thought, and that was that it was ruined two sessions ago!

I know it's tempting to just add that 'little bit more' to a painting, but with watercolour especially (and I do this times as well), overworking is adding too many layers and colours till it gets too dark and muddy, and fiddling is adding that little bit more detail to, or trying to correct or enhance the work. Sometimes a little bit of each of these so called 'faults' actually does improve the finished work, but of course the difficulty is knowing where and when to stop.

Here are my key aims, goals whatever in creating my paintings.

1. When sketching, keep the pencil moving back and forth until it finds the right line in my mind working away from a prominent point, subconsciously measuring distance.
2. Aim to add washes as loosely and transparently as possible adding in other colours while wet for shading and variety and texture.
3. Add the minimum of layers possible to show form.
4. Try to find the balance between detail and impression.
5. Not to try to make my work look too much like a photograph - always to remember it's a painting.
6. There must be more, but you add what you like here.

So, on reflection, I think on the whole that my work is improving, well know it's improving and evolving, much like most of you who read my blog with your own work I suspect. Don't get upset if I've criticised your work - just tell me to b****r off - I'm far from being an expert.

Lastly, thank you all for following me and for all your comments. It's such a buzz to read them and that someone with similar interests actually takes the time to comment on my work.


  1. I enjoyed reading about your thoughts and feelings towards the art. In the moment it's difficult to see that it's a process that flows along with time. I took a whole car load of paintings to the tip once and have often filled the household wheelie bin full of discarded work. Keeping going while the desire is there, is what I think is important and go where it takes you. :)

  2. Okay - Here are my thoughts. I absolutely LOVE the fact that you tell it to me like it is. I can take this very well from someone who has the knowledge and understanding to know what they are talking about. Frank - When you pay a compliment to one of my posts, I know that you mean it. When you criticise, far from being hurt or offended I find myself releived that you see it and say it - You were SO right about my last post and I had already said I didn't like it. Then, there it was in black and white, all the resons why I didn't like it but hadn't quite put my finger on. I love that people take the time and trouble to comment on my work. Like me, I am sure that sometimes they pick out bits they like and ignore bits they don't for fear of offending and like you I am also sometimes puzzled! Having said that, I also think it is easy to over criticise your own work and simply see what others don't. I don't feel qualified enough to criticise other people and therefore if I comment it's genuinely because I like the work for what ever reason. So Frank - please don't stop! If my work is becoming tedious and predictable, tell me! If it's overworked, tell me.... (and if it's good, don't forget to tell me ;0)) I find your comments incredibly valuable and I appreciate all of my followers! By the way - What the name of the book?

  3. @Alice - Oh no, I would never take any of my work down to the tip! When I was a teenager, I took a number of cine films of my friends and the area around where I was brought up. Having a clear out when I got a little older, I hadn't got the projector any more, so I threw the films away. I have always regretted doing that, especially as cine projectors are two-a-penny these days at car boot sales - all those friends and history gone!

    @Sandra - I must admit to picking out good points I liked about people's paintings and ignoring the bad bits at one time. These days I usually start with good bits and just mention that it's a shame about the bits that don't look right.
    I don't believe you should feel 'unqualified' to make judgement on any one else's work - you can always start with IMHO.
    You know you will get the truth from me, and I admire the fact that you haven't got upset at some of my comments ;)
    Here's the isbn of my book: 1899293949.

  4. lmao...Brovo *clapping hands* well said. Thank you for a post that dips into your heart. There seems to be a "lost" in the air. Ive been reading blogs today mostly , that artists seem to be struggling with something. Perhaps painting with the "heart energy" might shed light or enlightenment on the work we share.
    You visited my blog ..not so long ago?. Grab a book.

  5. Fabulous post, Frank! I've had this very same conversation with some members of the EDM group that I belong to. I love to hear the criticism of my work! I love EDM; however, people tend to not want to have any critique and I often feel the compliments are exaggerated. I've given a few softly-stated criticisms, after many compliments, and they were not taken well at all! I was actually a bit shocked by that. I mean, what is the point of having people only praise your work? How can you grow from that? I told my husband that I didn't start a blog so people could worship me! But, because of how my critiques were taken, I've gone back to only praising unless specifically asked. I have an agreement with a few others who I know don't mind and we critique each other. I'm often baffled by how sensitive people are, getting so emotional over a suggestion for improvement! I've loved every critique you've given me and I've agreed with every one of them. I don't always go back and change them, but that's only because I'm bored with the painting.

  6. Melanie, I am so glad you made this comment, as I looked at your blog and followed the link to egon+schiele and came across one of his paintings that I walk by every day in the course of my work, but I never knew it was by a famous artist!

  7. Reading your comment Raena makes me feel that we have so much in common. I made a very slight criticism on a friend's painting on another network recently, and think she got upset. Then I noticed that both her mother and sister had removed me from thieir freinds list!
    If people can't take constructive criticism on their work, then they shouldn't be putting it up for all to see. So many people are so vain in the way they publish work on the Internet. When you get to know a little about your followers, friends etc., you get to know that when they praise you, you've done something right and it comes from the heart.

  8. I need the constructive criticism! It would be crazy to be a beginner and think I know everything! I had to go to You Tube to see how to mix flesh color watercolor last night-I am serious that I don't know very much at all. I am grateful that you take the time to make those comments to help me along my way!

  9. Haha, I will bear that in mind Kim, but I can only suggest rather than advise. But this works both ways - if you see something that you think looks not quite right in one of my paintings then do bring it to my attention.
    I think what we need is a little club or group of people that will comment on each other's work and not worry about what we say, or get upset or embarrassed when comments go against us. Maybe it could be called something like 'The Get Real Painting Club' or something, LOL!