Archive for February 22nd, 2010

This is the view of a house that Dave Higgins, one of my favorite painters,  used to see from his bedroom as a child growing up in Binghamton.  This scene and that yellow house made quite an impression because over the years Dave has painted this particular house over a hundred times.

I mention this today to illustrate a point about how artists will often paint in series or repetitively, often using the same compositional elements again and again.  For some painters, it might become an exercise in copying each detail so that eventually the very life is squeezed out of the scene  but in the hands of a talented artist with a truly probing mind such as Dave, it becomes a study in finding nuance and dimensions that make each new version take on a new and different life.

Painting repetitively allows a painter to free their mind from trying to compose and focus on pure execution, letting them spend more of their mental effort on the surfaces they’re creating.  The less time spent on capturing the basic form of the subject  results in a scene that changes subtly with new version, revealing more depth and feeling.

Think of it as musician with a new song.  The first several times through they are focused on learning the basic construction of the composition but it’s not until it becomes ingrained in their muscle memory and they can play the composition with little thought that they are free to find and express real feeling within the piece.

This bottom piece is an early version from Dave and you can see how Dave has evolved over  the years by examining the ones above this.  He paints the scene from memory and adds and subtracts small elements to fit each new piece.  Whatever is needed to fulfill what he sees in that new version, to give the depth he’s seeking in it.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the Yellow House paintings from Dave Higgins over the years, you’ll know what I mean.

Great stuff…

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