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Archive for January 8th, 2018

Consistency, Again

Sometimes when I speak to schoolkids, they show me their work. There is an interesting mix of pride and embarrassment in these kids which sometimes has them telling me that they don’t think their drawings or paintings are very good. I know that feeling well. I was those kids once, with an aim that far exceeded my ability at that point. A friend sent me an image from a 6th grade newsletter that had a drawing of mine from that time in it that had me gasping at how poorly I drew at that time. I think it was supposed to be Dr. J dunking a basketball but who could tell? 

It was cringeworthy but it helped me in being able to tell these kids that where they are now is now where they will end up so long as they continue to practice and take small steps forward. You can’t judge a journey by the first steps on the path.

I thought I would share this post from about four years back that deals with this idea of development and growth. Plus, it’s just a great way to share some good work from Georges Seurat.

George Seurat -Paysage Avec ChevalI subscribe to a service that provides information such as auction results for artists, both living and dead. It is always interesting to scan the auction results for my favorite artists, to see how they are currently viewed by buyers. For example, anything by Vincent Van Gogh always draws huge money, even the work that doesn’t possess the signature brushwork and color of his better known works. Those pieces that do, go for astronomical sums. His popularity with the public is as strong as ever. I guess that is no surprise.

A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884.It’s also interesting to scan the results to see work from artists other than their more famous paintings that hang in museums.  We tend to think of artists by their best work and seldom see the complete chain of work that runs through their career, never really seeing their weak links or  the developmental work that led to their signature style or voice.

The image at the top, Paysage Avec Cheval,  a painting that recently went up for auction at Christie’s London, is a good example of this. It’s a lovely piece but you might not guess the artist.  This is from George Seurat whose work, such as his most famous work shown just above, is forever tied to pointillism. But scanning through his records, you can get a better sense of the evolution of his work. [ Note: This painting, small at about 6″ x 9″in size, sold in 2014 for over $1.8 million]

I am also looking for consistency in the artists whose work I am scanning through. Again, we always think of the artists in terms of their best known works and are often unaware of the totality of their body of work. Some artists are incredibly consistent, even in their early formative years. Others have high peaks and deep valleys, with a huge disparity between their best and not-so-best work. I am always encouraged by both types of artists.

I strive for consistency in my own work but have had dips and valleys in my work, particularly in the formative days early on. In those days, I thought of the great artists only in terms of their best  works that hung in the great museums of the world, thinking that they simply got up each day and turned out incredible work. I could not fathom the possibility that they had swings and misses. It’s encouraging to see that those icons whose work I revere often struggled in the same way as me and that the great works we know them for were not created in a vacuum. They came with great effort and day after day of moving ahead in often small increments.

I think any aspiring artist should take a few minutes to look through the whole of the works of their heroes. They might be encouraged, as I often have been, to know that the path they are on is not so much different.

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