Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

"Great stuff. Love your work."
Seymour Chwast

Search This Blog

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ear Count

Nightwings, acrylic on linen, 40 x 36 inches

Sketchbook, precursor to Nightwings, 4 x 3 inches

Vincent van Gogh wound up with only one ear.

Even Picasso had bad days when he produced works that were below his usual standard.  It didn't seem to bother him though,  so he ended his career with both ears intact.  If someone offered you a "bad" Picasso, would you turn it down because it wasn't a "good" one? It's still a "Picasso." He knew that.

The fact is that I came close  to being a one-eared artist myself during many fitful painting sessions   but stopped just short, so I still have two.  Mercifully, my artist's snits manifested themselves by my cutting up the "substandard" drawings or paintings that I was working on, rather than amputating  my ear. However, throwing out one's artwork is almost as bad as dispensing with one's ear.

Don't do either-especially throw out your work, even if you are dissatisfied with it. It is important to see the progression of your work, both technically and  hermeneutically. Not only will you learn from your mistakes, but you will be able to develop a stronger point of view. Also, there is a chance that you will be famous one day, and then everybody will want your "bad" paintings.

Another reason is that you can draw on your "sketchy" beginnings and use your seminal ideas to develop richer, more complex work.  For example, the drawing and painting above were produced years apart. The drawing is a sketch from my journal, made 19 years ago. When viewing it last year, it sparked the idea for a painting in my current series of paintings, Wings. The painting (done 19 years after its precursor ) draws heavily on the sketch, including model, background and mood. I added more color, layering, a dog and a bat. 

The most interesting aspect of the young man's pose is the expressive configuration and placement of his hands, which is why I wanted to sketch him in the first place.  I thought it was visually beautiful. Conceptually, though, his hands look dangerous because I think he might  have been giving a gang hand signal.

 I hope it wasn't the signal for, "Let's cut off the artist's ear."

1 comment:

  1. I so agree about not throwing out old work, although with all the moves we've made I've had to do a certain amount of culling. I love how this idea evolved over the years.