Oil on Wood, 12 x 15 in.
Forget You’re Doing a Painting
May 26, 2017 6 Comments
Warren Buffett once told his students that public speaking is the most important skill they could learn.
He didn’t say that most people fear public speaking more than death, according to surveys.
Could there be a greater challenge for an introvert than giving a speech?
If we can master that we can master anything, right?
So the eve of an artist talk, I searched YouTube for some last-minute advice. I found a video of speaking coach Richard Greene that could change anyone’s perspective on giving a speech.
“I don’t want you to ever, ever, give another speech
That’s not what great speakers do.
Public speaking is nothing more than a conversation, from the heart, about something you’re authentically passionate about… it’s a visceral thing; it’s not intellectual.”
Which makes perfect sense.
Because we’re all passionate about things love, and we all know how to talk.
We talk every day, no preparation, no rehearsal. What could be easier?
Nothing. Until we get up in front of an audience and see all those expectant faces.
That’s when the stress kicks in. Along with butterflies, sweaty palms, and dry mouth.
Next, we try to be so much more than we are. The ultimate authority in our field.
When all we have to be is authentic and have an experience to share. Because the audience is on our side. They want the event to go well, otherwise, they wouldn’t have shown up.
Keep that in mind for a second and consider just about any element of your painting. How do you make it all more compelling, more convincing? Like the background, for instance. What do you do with it?
Forget that you’re doing a painting. Put that idea out of your mind.
Focus instead on creating three things—clarity, atmosphere, and space, while you connect with your subject.
But don’t connect with your eyes and your mind only. Connect with your entire being.
Because you look at the world every day. You look at people, objects, and nature, and you over-analyze them. You don’t think foreground, background, or composition in your daily life. Only stuff in front of, and stuff behind, other stuff.
Some things come into focus and others go out. Forms advance and they recede. The visual world is a beautiful dance of tangible forms and intangible space.
But you need to strike the word painting from your vocabulary. Lose the P-word.
In fact, see if you can remove all language, and with it, all preconceptions, from the process of making art.
William Nicholson, The Lustre Bowl with Green Peas
Vija Celmins, Ocean, 2003, graphite
Ronald Sherr, Susan, Oil on canvas, 12 x 18 in.
Ronald Sherr’s stellar portraiture is a perfect example of varying levels of focus, ranging from high realism to touches of impressionism to near-abstraction. All harmonizing beautifully within the space of a few inches.
Spend 80% of your time developing your focal point. And the rest–just let it rip.
Work the way the eye works. It focuses on small areas at a time. Everything else is seen peripherally. (BTW, a great way to take one area out of focus is to clarify another).
Great speakers never give speeches
Widget not in any sidebars
5 Unusual Habits to Keep You Growing Artistically
Six Time-Honored Rules Every Artist Should Consider Dumping
If you want to write The Great American Novel, the WORST thing you can do is to strive to write The Great American Novel.
Great post! Thank you, Chris.
Great post! Thank you.
Great advice, as an artist one can tend to sometimes try to make every little detail perfect, even if insignificant in terms of the whole. Nice examples btw
My best friend sent me to your blog today because what you wrote here is exactly what I propose and teach. You said it all perfectly and I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for writing this. I’ve bookmarked your site and will be reading all your posts, and will be sending students to read your posts.
I can always tell when my left brain is trying to take over, it shows. Focus of intention, and intention for focus, what is the story inside the image, never lose the inspiration, all that good stuff.
Now I’ll check out your art and social media and like you as much as possible. (smile) Delighted to meet you.
Great Advice. So true.. I’ll let it rip.
Wonderful post Chris! I love your philosophy and these are the things you’ve been telling me in the studio for a long time. Such important points to remember. Am so grateful!