Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The road home

Of late, I have been picking apart some decades-old artistic habits and taking some skills right back to their bare bones in order to rebuild from the ground up.  This is where my watercolor skills are falling right now. I feel like I have spread everything I’ve ever learned about this wonderful medium out on the floor of my study, tossed the pieces around, and now am taking a good hard look from a brand new perspective.

It was during the formative stages of this process that I discovered a watercolorist named Cathy “Kate” Johnson. She is also a writer, teacher, and clearly a lover of both art and nature. In fact, she seems to be having so much fun that it is truly a joy to witness. It is also a feature that I greatly admire.

Seeing how much she loves her “work” really helped me to get some needed perspective on my own. It can be astoundingly easy to forget why we take this fantastic artistic journey. Cathy Johnson’s enthusiasm helps me remember.

A friend of mine recently reminded me of a business model that takes the shape of a pyramid with a different word at each corner. The words are: time, cost, quality. The model explains that you can only ever have two of these things at any one time. I know quite well what it is like to produce art that is fast and efficiently done. Furthermore, art that also looks good. That’s what a commercial artist does. But a fine artist is quite different. They rely on the quality side of the pyramid much more than the time side. I am so used to speeding along to deadlines that it seems difficult to ever stay in one piece long enough for it to be ABSOLUTELY finished. Even when the piece is not a commission!  It’s a big, hairy deal for me to slow down and fully explore each piece that I create. In fact, I haven’t yet been able to do it to my satisfaction. But each day it gets easier. I feel like an addict to my old habits. I guess that’s why habits are so hard to break. Nevertheless, I persist upon a road that, hopefully, leads back eventually to the deep breath and the satisfied smile of a job well done.

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