Archive for March 19th, 2022

“It has always seemed to me that so long as you produce your dramatic effect, accuracy of detail matters little. I have never striven for it and I have made some bad mistakes in consequence. What matter if I hold my readers?”

― Arthur Conan Doyle

Who would have thought that the creator of Sherlock Holmes would have some good advice to offer to artists?

The words above from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about how he he would sacrifice accuracy of detail in order to gain greater dramatic effect in his work are very enlightening.

And reassuring.

I have been going through a lot of older work from over twenty plus years back when I was still in a formative stage with my painting. I hadn’t read these words from Doyle but one of the first conscious decisions I made about my work was that I would not be a slave to detail, that I would slash away as much detail as possible while still conveying a sense of what was being represented. Oh, I would use smaller details when they served the greater effect of the painting but the fewer the better.

One example from this early work is the piece at the top that is from around 1997. I was surprised when I came across this small painting in a file folder that I hadn’t examined in many years. It was a solid example of the work I was doing at the time, mainly in watercolor with the beginnings of my relationship with the acrylic artist inks that have long been a staple of my work.

It is sparsely detailed with little consideration to trying to replicate natural color. It just allows the colors and the shapes do what they will in communicating a sense of place and feeling. It works pretty well for what I want from it.

Over the years, I sometimes have strayed from this credo of sparseness but I always find my way back to it. There just seems to be more space for the expansion of feeling when details are cut away. It’s a good thing to keep in mind.

So, thanks for the reminder, Mr. Doyle. I can use all the help I can get.

I am busy this morning so I am replaying the post above from a few years back.

I have never been a slave to detail or absolute accuracy in my work. Or, for that matter, in most other things. I am reminded of this when I sometimes finish a painting and notice that there are shadows cast by some of the objects in the painting while there are none cast by others. It seldom bothers me except in those times when the absence creates a distraction within the composition that keeps me from focusing on the overall impact of the piece. And that’s pretty rare.

How the piece comes across as a whole is far more important to me than a misplaced or absent shadow or an error here and there in perspective or any of a thousand other small flaws and mistakes that you can find in my work. If anything, they are part and parcel of it, a defining aspect of the work.

To paraphrase Mr. Doyle: What matter if I hold my viewer?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: