Impedimenta

30

Dear Artist,

Music pervades the studio, the headset-phone rings from time to time, the brush proceeds. Here in the solitude of the easel-station there’s time to consider. I’m looking at hold-ups.

ted-smuskiewicz_terror

“Terror”
oil painting, 30 x 36 inches
by Ted Smuskiewicz

Did you ever stop to realize how drawing holds up brushwork? When work is prepared with a drawing, simple or complex, there’s the tendency to work around the lines and cave in to the drawing. This can be an effective way to go, of course, but for a lot of us drawing is a tyranny which impedes freshness and spontaneity. The virus of overwork easily eats away if there are lines to attend to. Drawing, while often a vital step, ought to be implied or suggested with paucity. Brushstrokes then take on a look, a beauty of their own, and the subject finds itself in the strokes.

 

ted-smuskiewitz_shirleys-bed

“Shirley’s Bed”
oil painting by Ted Smuskiewicz

And did you ever note how knowledge holds up flow? What we know how to do and have come to depend upon can, in an innocent wander, turn adventure to boredom. Sure, professionalism requires professional knowledge: order, theory, technique, facility. The miracle is that knowledge gives its best confidence when kept quietly in a secondary pocket. Only then comes the undisputed magic of letting go. I’m not sure about everybody but it seems what we want more than anything in our work are passages, even minor moments, of con brio.

ted-smuskiewicz_fence-and-field

“Fence and Field”
oil painting, 18 x 24 inches
by Ted Smuskiewicz

I don’t mind confessing that I live for those moments and cherish them when they arrive. And when those moments elude me I’m most distressed.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Leave your strokes alone.” (Ted Smuskiewicz)

PPS: “Perform with elan, brilliance and dash — at concert pitch.” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Esoterica: What does not impede is the knowledge that others are and have been on the same path. While our stars may not, for the time being, shine as bright as Monet’s or Georgia O’Keeffe’s, we are nevertheless of the sisterhood and brotherhood. We’re not alone.


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30 Comments

  1. Yes, yes, yes! As a non-drawer, I often get caught up in trying to get it perfect which leads to disaster. Except for very few lines, I am putting away my pencil!

    • I love drawing, it is probably the calmest mental state I go into and can happily live there. However when I go to paint from the drawing I tend to put the drawing away , just using the necessary lines to get me going. The problem I face is , I have already expressed my emotion onto the drawing so the pInting has to stand by itself. The drawing is almost never the same as the painting. I let my passion fall into the paint and allow my head and brush to follow. Being able to use different mediums has made a huge difference.

    • Yes, I love that idea!
      I am a non -drawer too and it always stifles my creativity when I spend too much time on trying to get in right. It rarely has the same affect as those pieces that come from the heart and soul.
      Susan Lettieri

  2. Pingback: Impedimenta | Antje Bednarek-Gilland

  3. I experience this moment in dancing tango where the dances last about 3 minutes and the moments can be any small part of that. It seems such a human response to love the brilliance when it occurs and for me seems beyond my actual doing. Is it even possible to sustain con brio? Would it disappear in relation to nothing but con brio?

  4. I’m a pastel artist, but I always start with a rough sketch , to make sure the scene will fit on the paper , I must confess , I am a good drawer , alway was from a small kid , but I can’t wait for the pastels to start popping out at me .

  5. timeless advice . I have always coloured outside the lines , the pencil helps with composition , the brush creates the vision . I am constantly trying for ‘ LESS IS MORE ‘ I try to leave the brushstrokes alone . helps keep it fresh and alive

  6. The more time painting, the happier I am. A rough sketch in the field leads to an under painting. But this year I have cut loose: pouring paints and letting the images emerge. A new territory for me.

  7. My only.” drawing” is on the canvas with a brush and washy paint. Having never been friendly with pencil or other drawing instrument, I have been a little ashamed sometimes that I can’t do it all…..Regrets are now gone! Many thanks.

  8. “Blocking in” is only with thought of composition elements, dark passages that will hopefully hold true till the end. It is in the light and colorful painterly expressiveness that comes next that allows those deep anchor moments at the beginning to give their most important value…
    Drawing and detail at the beginning? Perhaps that has importance in Portraiture, but even then, block in loosely first.

  9. Yes, I love drawing and feel that I don’t do enough of it. But, for me, drawing and painting are separate undertakings, coming into contact only in preliminary painting stages, with thumbnail sketches etc. I will only draw on the canvas in the rare times I have a lot of figures or complex shapes that I have to get right. Normally, I find drawing on the canvas inhibits and constrains painting.

  10. John Ira Clemens Jr on

    Great article. Love the title too! Drawing to me is usually (maybe supposed to be) like meditation. It gives me time to contemplate the subject and composition, play with and adjust elements. This remains true whether I “draw” with paint, charcoal or a #2 pencil.
    My moods have the greatest impact on my ability to pick up the brush. I have not learned to channel negative energy into good works. Oh, if I only could!

    • I AGREE WITH JOHN CLEMENS, AND BEING A PORTRAITIST LEARNED IN LONG AGO ART SCHOOL, THAT EVERY PORTRAIT STARTED AS A LIFE DRAWING WITH A FAST CHARCOAL SKETCH……THEN NEXT A VALUE STUDY IN OIL, AND ON TO COMPLETION….I LOVE DRAWING AND QUITE OFTEN HAVE A BETTER LIKENESS, THAN WHEN IT IS FINISHED IN
      OIL…DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF DECADES, I THINK I’M GETTING BETTER WITH EACH PAINTING……WHAT EVERY ARTIST STRIVES FOR.,,,,,,

  11. The processes of drawing and painting are both necessary, and extremely enjoyable for me. But it strikes me how they are both at their best, when held separate. I approach each with a different attitude, with a different emotion and even a different skill set. It often happens that when painting deceives me, drawing consoles and keeps me busy. Drawing feels more innate to me, I have been drawing since a very early age, but I had to learn to paint. I am still learning.

    • Tatjana, I love your words, so similar to my own experience…Painting and drawing are both essential to me. Drawing has always been more natural, but…painting is where my greatest learning and urge for expansion lives. Here’s to a year full of great learning, drawing, painting, and fulfillment!

  12. Gabriella Morrison on

    Not everyone has the temperament and/or intention to work with “con brio” or at a fever pitch. And there can be the problem of falling in love with one’s own virtuosity. And yes, there are other modes than Taschist painting. I think the best flow for each individual artist occurs when acceptance of one’s own sense of physicality, energy and the specifics of the medium in which the work is undertaken combine seamlessly. Drawing, per se, is not an impediment, after all painting with brushes is merely drawing coloured marks on to a surface with variously proportioned clumps of hair attached to sticks – a messy drawing tool.

  13. It always bothers me when someone says a painting must be done in a certain way. Ever one paints differently,that’, s the fun and beauty of art. I like detail, lots of detail ,. I don’t think you’re wrong to paint splash and dash, I think there’s room for every one.

    I’ve looked up Sara’s paintings, they are quite simple. but her writing complex and eloquent , is that a conflict? no that’s interesting. leave room for other’s point of view.

  14. I once read there are 2 kinds of painters; putters and pushers. Putters draw their subject and “put” the paint between the lines. Pushers, well, don’t. They push the paint around until it feels right. And although putters do some amazing things, it’s the pushers that speak to me most strongly.

    • Lillian Updike on

      Thank you, Peter, for describing putters and pushers. I am both. When painting a portrait I putter and then I have to do a pusher painting which is much more fun to begin. I have to stop painting when I begin to putter. I am so glad to be clear about my process.

  15. you WOULD say that :-) I am working on clayboard and drawing does something else soemtimes…makes a trough in the surface that you may or may not want. Yipes….

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