I always get this funny, guilty sort of feeling when I make a sale. I don’t know why. I mean, I feel proud, but also a little guilty. Maybe it’s because I love painting so much. At times my work gives me real puzzles to figure out and goodness knows I have produced a lot of dogs, but there is just a special joy that comes with figuring out how to get down on a surface the image I see in my head.
Well, I mean, I see it with my eyes (often right in front of me if working on a still life or painting in plein air), but my brain seems to interpret things a little differently than say, a camera. Or even another person. How do you explain the color sky blue to someone who has never seen it? And the sky, well, to me it’s not actually blue very often and then there are shades and values and shifts from white to yellow to reds, purples and greens at times. So, my paintings are not photo-realistic. Impressionistic? Sometimes, but my work doesn’t really fit that category either. Maybe just “representational” fits the bill.
And yet, I often (even usually) work with the aid of photographs. They are photos I took myself and they are usually “touched up” on the computer based on what I REMEMBER I think I saw of the scene or the creature or the subject. I will often work out compositional issues using the computer tools. I like Adobe Photoshop most of the time as I’m the most used to using it (except when they update it and I have to learn it all over again, grrr.). And yet, when I put pastel to paper or brush to board, the decisions my brain makes about how to capture a particular value can get a little bizarre — and yet, it works (except when it doesn’t and that’s where the dogs come from).
And when I talk with a person who is working to learn to paint or draw and they feel so frustrated because they are struggling to capture what they see. In that case, it’s really just training the muscles of the hands, arms and body to follow the mind’s eye. That is just practice and I need to practice drawing more … I’m not sure I know too many current artists who don’t need to practice their drawing skills more, to be frank. But I used to draw very well and my muscle memories are coming back — even after 30 years of not drawing or doing any artwork at all. Still, I need to draw more…
So, maybe that’s why I feel a little guilty when I sell a painting. I have not yet risen to the skill level I would like to reach (maybe I never will) and maybe, just maybe I feel like I’m cheating my patron a little. And I’m deeply grateful to them that they appreciate my vision and my interpretation of something they see and love it enough to put down their hard earned money for it. It is the support of my patrons that allows me the flexibility to continue to pursue the work I am driven to do and I deeply appreciate all of them.
That said, I need to get back to the studio and finish some more paintings as the Red-belly on the Dogwood painting sold to a lovely couple last night. Thank you Helen and Jim for your patronage.