Doug Martin, Dan Beck and I went to see Scott Christensen yesterday. He gave an hour and a half talk to about 50 people at the Denver Art Museum and he got us to realize, (me at least) what makes a painting great. It was nearly all old stuff. Things I’d heard before and in my haste to become the next Rembrandt or Picasso these things got pushed back into my head and forgotten.
He talked about tension in a painting and what creates chaos and unity (and boredom) and how it all relates to music with its tempo and rhythm. He also talked about how easy it is to end up on the back road to Bangladesh, lost with no map if you ignore things like light and shadow and accents and reflected light and……all that other stuff we’re supposed to know. Most of us have probably at least heard this stuff. And most of us probably believe these ideas to be valid. But sometimes in our haste to be the next great painter it skips our minds and pales in importance while we quest for our next best painting. Now I know why it’s such a pleasure to watch Scott wield a brush. He paints to a different tune than a lot of us. But remembering that stuff and researching it and knowing it is the easy part.
So what’s the hard part? So what “did” I learn?
I learned what it means to be a football player and what it takes to be a winner.
And practicing at full speed if I expect to succeed when I’m doing the real thing. Scott believes it’s the preparing and the practicing that puts us on our game in the studio. And I think he’s right. It’s all in the doing and the doing and the doing.
You may be wondering what the image above has to do with all that. Not much. It’s just a small plein air painting that might have been a lot different had I been practicing and learning instead of trying to make something I could take to the gallery. There’s nothing wrong with that.