April 19th, 2013
An Artist Is Born
I was looking for that one magical piece of information I felt my paintings desperately needed, so I took another workshop. After spending most of the weekend watching the teacher’s demonstrations, I did learn a thing or two. But I did not find that stroke of genius that would elevate my paintings to the level of a Klimt or Degas.
In college, I was told it takes hundreds of paintings to become good. One of my assignments was to paint 25 paintings in one week. Sometime later I was at a conference where a professional critiqued my work. I waltzed in hoping he would say I was ready for the art market. “Yes, he said, you have talent and potential but come back after you do 300 more paintings.” Three hundred more. That was a lot of painting. Again in the book “Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color,” Kevin Macpherson says, “Pledge to do one hundred starts-simple, flat shapes studies with no detail…The more starts you do, the better you’ll become at them.” A few years later, I was invited to a Master Class in Cloudcroft, New Mexico with instructor William Herring. What an impacted he had on my art career!
His theory was; there are 7 steps to mastery just like other disciplines such as tie kwon doe, dancing or being a musician. After 350 works, you are in step 3. I felt this was an achievable goal. However, Step 4 was 1000 works. That was a big jump.. Step 5 required 2000 works. After 3000 works you have achieved the “Big Kahuna”….Mastery.
He broke it down into easy mathematical equations. Doing three works (works include painting, sketching, sculpting and etc.) a week would equal only a measly 156 works a year. It would take you 6.4 years to get to 1000 works or step 4. Finally, after 3000 works at three works a week and nineteen years later, via-la you would arrive at the Taj mahal. But, I wanted to win awards, sell my artwork and develop a name sometime in the near future or at least before my teeth started to fall out.
I barricaded myself in my studio for two years. (I did come out for classes, workshops and food). Finally, I started seeing results. Slowly but surely, I was making progress. It finally sunk in; it takes that much practice get good.
Think of the hours, weeks, months and years a musician, dancer or martial arts person practices before they attempt to perform. That is what a painting is…your performance.
I feel, artists are afraid to practice because it is down on paper. They feel it is permanent. Music floats through the air. No one knows how horrible it sounded at the beginning. Same with a dancer. All their workouts are not recorded to see their leg only raised up to their waist instead of their chest until continual practice. But an artist, their practice is there for everyone to see unless the artist or someone destroys it.
The numbers aren’t really important but they do get the big picture across. It is the principle of performing the work that counts
So get the lead out. Like Jilllian Michaels coaches on the “Biggest Loser,” Artist- GET UP – Artist – GET UP and workout until you are exhausted. You will make progress one painting instead of one pound at a time.
June 24th, 2012
Here is an article about Missouri artist, Vic Mastis' artwork with gold leaf. www.missourilife.com/articles/missouri-artist%3A-vicmastis