|Monet - 1864|
As craftsmen, whether or not we delight in these small tasks, they are necessary pains of our trade. The point is to arrive at a superlative degree of finish that satisifies.
Yet what if this kind of finish work - exacting craftsmanship - doesn't thrill you? Imagine, if you will, a furniture maker who is content with just roughing in the "idea" of a chair and not bothering with the sanding and varnishing. But if you consider yourself more an artist and not so much a craftsman, does it matter? As an artist, can you stop short and call it done?
|Monet - 1903|
Although I always try to hit a high degree of craftsmanship, I have to confess that, for me, I enjoy the process more than the finish. I am quite delighted with, say, observing a tree closely, noting the wonderful shifts between warm and cool colors in its bark, and then mixing and placing spots of color accurately. This kind of active observation gives me endless pleasure. So much so that I often feel that bringing the painting to a high level of finish would be anticlimactic.
Still, if I didn't come up with a finished product, I'd have nothing to sell and would be forced down a different path for income. So, as part of my vision when I start a painting, I try to keep this finish in mind as I work. (Monet may no longer have cared about "finish" by 1903.) My method must be working, because I'm still making a living at it.
When I retire from being a professional painter, I joke with my peers, I'll travel with just a single painting panel. With it, I'll "capture the moment" in paint and then, after I've enjoyed the piece a day or two, scrape it clean. I'll use this same panel over and over, enjoying the process without having as my goal a finished, material work. And it sure would save on closet space.
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