December 5, 2013

Rigour Mortis

Pair of Red Pears 6X8" oil on panel

It has been a little while since I have had the opportunity to hunker in and do some small Still Life studies.  I recently taught a small, but keen, group of students, and I have to admit, it felt good to get in front of the Still Life again.

What I am noticing about the practice of painting from life and getting a result that "reads" well, is that it takes rigour.

Rigour: noun, defn;  the quality of being extremely thorough . exhaustive and accurate.

It DOESN'T mean that every detail needs to be included, but it does mean that nothing "wrong" is knowingly left on the canvas. I believe rigour is lacking in so much of the training we receive as artists, especially in the western world.  Yes, art should be creative, expressive, joyful....for the painter and the viewer.  But when have very limited understand of the basics of color mixing, drawing, seeing tone and temperature correctly, getting a good design etc.,  all those lovely "higher" functions are stunted and thwarted.  RIGOUR BRINGS FREEDOM.  It may not sound like much fun, and sometimes it isn't...but it leads to fun!

Work with concentration and attention, and the skill sets begin to shift - put in the ten thousand hours.  The renowned educator, John Holt, said "We learn to do by doing, there is no other way".  Workshops can shorten the learning curve, for sure, but in the end the easel hours and the rigour are required to achieve excellence.  All of the other arts - music, dance, writing, demand the skill sets to be in place,.  Excellence in any field of endeavour demands rigour - it is the launching place for beauty and creativity to come into being.

Okay, I shall get off my soap box now, and back to the easel.  Thanks for listening. ;)  Paint on!


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