Perfect happiness

Dear Artist, “The way to be happy,” said Winston Churchill, “is to find something that requires the kind of perfection that’s impossible to achieve and spend the rest of your life trying to achieve it.” I’ve always liked that idea — it’s one of the main reasons why painters keep coming back to their studios and squeezing out. But, as most of us know, perfectionism has its problems. Some of us don’t handle it very well. Current study identifies some folks as “adaptive perfectionists” while others are “maladaptive perfectionists.” It seems that some of us use the ideal of perfection as a healthy route toward excellence, while others are stymied and made dysfunctional by the thought of it. Accepting the inevitable proposition that striving for your own idea of perfection is going to take you down a long and bumpy road of frustration, here are a few ideas: Turn on your experimental mind. Everything is an assay. Be inventive and prepared to be surprised. Do not at first commit yourself to onerous or impossible projects with too many potential pitfalls. Be aware that disappointment and failure are stepping stones to satisfaction and success. When something you do gives you joy, go once more (and perhaps again and again) in that direction. Do not beat yourself up when you fall down. There is no vendetta. Dust yourself off. Be practical. Know that perfection is just an ideal and that notes, colours, forms, designs, etc., can only approach that ideal. Avoid exposure to potential critics until well along on a project. Don’t let anyone prematurely pop your balloon. Be philosophical. The happiest people take an “agnostic” approach where curiosity and questioning give more joy and stimulate more wonder than pat answers. We live our short spans in the vortex of a miracle, and while we may not be the center of that vortex, it is magic to be anywhere in there. Be happy! The gods insist on it. The philosophers can find no higher ideal. The pursuit of it is written in the US Constitution. It’s the pursuit that matters. Best regards, Robert PS: “For adaptive perfectionists, the divide between their high standards and actual performance may serve as a motivator. But for maladaptive perfectionists, that gulf becomes insurmountable, creating anxiety and self-doubt that can be demotivating.” (Sue Shellenbarger) Esoterica: On the daily pathway of pushing brush, or any other creative task, we encounter potholes and obstacles that contrive to dim our forward vision. Back up. Clean off. Start again. Re-think. Ask again. Push aside. Jump over. Retrace. Shove on. Fact is, a great deal of satisfaction is to be had by chopping aside a fallen log from a trail. And when all else fails, bed and sleep give promise of a fresh working day tomorrow. “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,” said William Shakespeare. He may have been fretting how to advance a plot. Really now, is there anything more important? Or anything that has the potential to make us happier?   Perfection not needed by Phil Chadwick, Southampton, ON, Canada  

“A Young Aurora”
oil painting
by Phil Chadwick

Perfection is over-rated. Who decides what is perfect anyway? I don’t like to empower anyone else with that kind of authority. I am not even qualified to make that weighty decision! If I am happy, isn’t that all that really matters? I find if I try to make something better, supposedly closer to perfection, I typically mess it up. My imperfect perfection tends to be the accidental strokes that happen outside, surrounded by inspiration. I don’t wear my reading glasses when I paint. I don’t want to see the obvious imperfections. Maybe I have just contracted “OLD” and thus cease to care what others think of my art and painting perfection. Just let me paint… I mean well. There are 4 comments for Perfection not needed by Phil Chadwick
From: Phil the Forecaster — Oct 19, 2012

I am honoured to be a small part of this newsletter… thanks for using my thoughts. They were hones t,spontaneous words after reading “perfection”. Thank you!

From: Anna H. — Oct 19, 2012

I love your last line when you say, “Just let me paint… I mean well.” Well said!

From: Catherine McLay — Oct 20, 2012

And a very nice painting, too!

From: Sherry Symington — Nov 03, 2012

Loved your post, especially your last sentence, “Just let me paint…I mean well.” My new motto! For what it’s worth, I find your painting to be quite perfect.

  Value of chance and change by Iskra Johnson, Seattle, WA, USA  

“Viktoria Viktoria”
photo collage
by Iskra Johnson

As a professional calligrapher and lettering designer I am a card carrying perfectionist. This is utterly necessary in my work in advertising design and publishing. Typography is an unforgiving world. In my life as a fine artist the perfectionist streak can be a crippling liability. I began as a watercolorist, carrying over my calligraphic training into a painting discipline that takes no prisoners. Love of the whiteness of paper and the perfect brush stroke almost killed me. To recover I had to open my mind to the complete messiness of other mediums and learn to paint knowing I would scrape it all off as part of the process. Only then could I begin to learn composition and image making — which can be quite different from “painting-making.” My psychological liberation came with reading John Cage’s book, Silence, which has been my go-to bible ever since. I have incorporated his ideas of chance, change and the way of making one’s own “rules” to compose by, and can bring about a transformative order and magic to the process. I do a lot of my photocollage in Photoshop. I welcome the software’s infinity of ways to reconsider value, to reorder layers, to test and retest and ease back with command z’s — the generosity of this technology can open my mind, loosen my preconceptions and lead to much better and more surprising work. There are 2 comments for Value of chance and change by Iskra Johnson
From: Darrell Baschak — Oct 19, 2012
From: Iskra Johnson — Oct 19, 2012
  Habits of perfectionists by Peter Trent, Hawkesbury, ON, Canada   I read an article in the weekend Globe and Mail (Toronto) “Why Can’t Perfectionists Break the Habit?” in respect of the subject of perfection and I wondered how long it might be before you used that as a theme for your column; you haven’t disappointed! The article is so pertinent to many of us (well, me anyway!), as I am about to embark on a new painting tonight and I am struggling with, Should I do this one? but it’s beyond my current skill level, or that which is a doodle, but — people (or if you prefer, they) say one should reach beyond, yada, yada — and I don’t want to fail — (I suspect that my ego would take a real beating — blah, blah ) so yes, an interesting article and good food for thought. Thank you for your comments because they made this evening’s choice easy! (RG note) Thanks, Peter. Yes, the article is excellent. Readers can find it here.   Perfection invites paralysis by Cristy West, NW Washington, DC, USA  

“Arcadian Melody”
mixed media
by Cristy West

Today’s letter hit home, embroiled as I was in a maddening struggle with a new painting that wasn’t coming together. Your discussion also inspired me to dig out a pertinent quote, from Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland: “The perfect is the enemy of the good — To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you can do perfectly. You cling more tightly to what you already know you can do — away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate since to not work is to not make mistakes. Believing that artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you cannot make such work. (You are correct.) Sooner or later, since you cannot do what you are trying to do, you quit. And in one of those perverse little ironies of life, only the pattern itself achieves perfection — a perfect death spiral: you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit. The seeds of your next work lie embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides — to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.” So I guess I’ll just have to jump back into the muck of it all and see what happens next! There are 5 comments for Perfection invites paralysis by Cristy West
From: Anonymous — Oct 19, 2012

Yes! Fantastic! Carry on!!!!

From: Suzanne Tillman — Oct 19, 2012

Christy, Love your comments. Also enjoy seeing your work at the Art League Gallery!

From: Iskra — Oct 19, 2012

That book is a god send.

From: Marie Martin — Oct 21, 2012

“The seeds of your next work lie embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.” Christy, there is such wisdom, and beauty, in these words!

From: Liz Reday, — Oct 22, 2012

Nice painting! I take delight in the way you have handled the paint.

  Tempering perfection with ‘the shadow’ by Helena Tiainen, Berkeley, CA, USA  

“A Different Kind of Bullseye”
digital art
by Helena Tiainen

In the western world we are in general brought up to concentrate on the happy and positive to a degree that the negative or so-called shadow side has no choice but to raise its head in a mostly thwarted fashion. The shadow can be a great ally when accepted as a necessary part of the whole in this world of duality. Your point about looking at disappointment and failure as stepping stones to satisfaction and success reflects true wisdom. Our emotions always reflect our desires. When our life experience does not meet our desires, we are let down. And since feeling let down most of the time simply does not feel good, happiness flies out the window. I think hence the pursuit of no desire in Buddhism. Yesterday, I was feeling some physical pain and decided to try a different approach from my usual. Instead of fighting it, I decided to go toward it and embrace it. After a while the pain went away. I am not sure if this was due to my newly found approach or not, but in any case, the whole process was more pleasant when I decided to own it. Perhaps it is possible to learn new ways of interpreting and reacting to so-called negative experiences. Perhaps there truly is a blessing in everything, no matter how terrible it might seem at first glance and experience. There is much to be said about how we may be conditioned to react and re-react to our reactions. Maybe the only difference between a person who is stopped by a challenge and one that is motivated by it, are the questions that they are willing to ask themselves and the openness of their approach. I personally think that it is wise not to take oneself too seriously. An open mind always seems to work better and a touch of innocence is mostly refreshing. There are 2 comments for Tempering perfection with ‘the shadow’ by Helena Tiainen
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Oct 19, 2012

Helena, the Buddhist pursuit of no desire will get a working artist nowhere. Desire is not the great evil. The duality paradigm is ending. It ends NOW for anyone willing to do the work of integrating the Shadow and the Light, work I did 25 years ago. Which is why I now can challenge everyone on everything.

From: Angelika Ouellette — Oct 25, 2012

Very refreshing your comments about deciding to own what you were feeling rather than blaming outside forces for your discomfort. Certainly more empowering, even to the reader. Thank you.

  Popping a kid’s balloon by Megan McLean, San Diego, CA, USA   The other day, while at the St. Paul Art Crawl, I noticed one of the artists had a display of kids’ art which took up an entire wall in her small studio space. I asked if she taught art and she replied that the art was made by her kids and some of their friends, who wanted to be part of the Art Crawl. She added that she really loves to encourage children who have any kind of interest in art. I told her about my niece, Michelle, who recently had a very bad experience while meeting with an art school rep. The woman was highly critical of everything Michelle showed her, including a piece that had been selected from hundreds of high school entries for a special art show. Michelle was proud of that piece and the woman verbally trashed it. She advised Michelle to pursue other interests and forget about trying to be something she’s not. Michelle, who’s only 17-years old — still just a kid — was terribly hurt by that woman’s “advice.” It really damaged her self-image and made her feel that she can no longer pursue her passion for art. The artist, who’d been busy painting while we were talking, put down her brush and listened very intently. She then told me about winning first place at an art contest when she was a kid. One of the judges came up to her, after she received the award, and advised her that, even though she’d won first place, she really wasn’t very talented and should only consider making art as a hobby — not as a career. She was devastated by those words. She’d always wanted to be an artist when she grew up and thought the judge’s “advice” was the end of that dream. It took her a long time to get her mojo back but now she makes her living as an artist. And, in my humble opinion, a very talented one at that. She also told me that, over the years, she’s heard many stories from people about how much they once loved to make art until some unkind or thoughtless remark hurt their confidence to the point that they stopped. What a terrible shame! It makes me wonder what it is about some people that they feel the need to burst a young person’s bubble like that. Do they think there’s some kind of artistic “tone-deafness” that can’t be overcome with any amount of training or perseverance? Do they think they’re being cruel to be kind? Or, saving the world from sub-standard art? And, what about those budding artists who are so wounded that they’re unable to regroup and move forward… what words of advice can undo that kind of damage and rebuild their confidence? I wish I knew because I think my niece already is an artist. I’ve been friends with and worked with dozens of artists over the years, and I think Michelle’s one of the most naturally — seemingly effortlessly — creative people I’ve ever known. I think she shows great potential that, but for a thick skin or an “I’ll show you” attitude, may never be realized. There are 11 comments for Popping a kid’s balloon by Megan McLean
From: Anonymous — Oct 18, 2012

Sadly it’s not so just in arts. Junior people in many professions get their efforts denigrated or even their work stolen by their bosses without any consequences. I have seen young people go home in tears only having to return to the same stuff day after day. This is more common than one would think.

From: Anonymous — Oct 19, 2012

The need to burst a young person’s bubble comes from the dark side of the destroyer. It is perhaps fueled by envy and their own inability to get past their fear of failure…so they don’t try and they advise others to stay safe too!

Gail Andrew
From: Ginny in Florida — Oct 19, 2012

Oh Megan. The more I teach and interact with other mature adults who are coming back to art after years of thinking that they were not creative or could not make art, the more I hear these same horror stories of thoughtless remarks. Children are so susceptible to these remarks. It is not just teachers but many times an aunt or a neighbor or a friend’s parent…etc. Usually when I talk with adults about why they have not come to art before this, it comes down to some story just as you have related!

From: anonymous — Oct 19, 2012

Young people need to be made aware (particularly sensitive people, such as artists) that other people are always motivated by their own personal hang-ups and viewpoint, which may not have any real bearing on reality. Unfortunately, they need to learn that adults are flawed and their opinions not necessarily good in terms of advice. A hard lesson, but much needed to protect their self esteem from instant damage, due to harsh and thoughtless comments.

From: Anonymous — Oct 19, 2012

Like most artists, I have been wounded by casual criticism and buoyed by praise…The right brain is defenseless as it works its magic. I wonder if the art school person was practicing “poisonous pedagogy” (as Alice Miller describes such meanness). The value of a professional art school is learning via the critique process, how to defend the work. I would not advise the girl to to to that woman’s school, but to find a better one.

From: H Margret — Oct 19, 2012

“Sour grapes” is what that nasty comment to the girl was about. Envy and control on the side of the speaker. The artist ‘s path is to keep going, no matter what. And recognize perfection for a mirage, projected by those who are uncreative themselves. consider the great artists, they didn’t create perfection, they created surprise, wonder, freedom, delight and the personal response to visual reality.

From: Win Dinn — Oct 19, 2012
From: judy — Oct 19, 2012

It’s sad, but in my experience, I believe that the Art World is ESPECIALLY cynical & critical. Perhaps it’s because of the deep chasm between the “ivory towers” of analytical criticism, philosophical educators, & the general “intellectual elite”; (try reading Artforum. It’s more about “who’s who” & art parties than Art… & the Art is rarely about painting or drawing) compared to the more mundane painting world, where many of us still create & appreciate Painting as an artform. Add to that the paint-slingers who have been in the trenches for most of their lives, without the satisfaction of making a decent living, & you have a recipe for bitter old warriors attempting to discourage the new lambs being led to slaughter. Fortunately, it’s not all like that; within smaller communities & galleries, & amongst painting groups & forums that are more supportive, painting is still a tribal tradition.

From: anonymous — Oct 19, 2012

i always liked to draw as akid people-teachers said i was good.But advised me to get a real job. 5 years ago at age49 i began to paint. I worked hard and enjoyed the journey. yesterday i thought maybe some of my work had value and may even be good enough to sell. So i mustered up enough courage to ask a very successful and famoius artist to give me an honest oppinion- he told me it was all crap and to Burn it all! So im hurt and dont know what to do. this man is a real big time artist-he must know junk when he sees it-right?

From: Holly — Oct 19, 2012

Its an old fashioned idea that one has to be born talented in order to make it. Its sad to hear that today’s children are still getting hit with this outdated myth. On the other hand, the “democratization” of art (that anyone can be an artist) has its pitfalls, as well. To the 49 yr old anon: Develop your own inner critic, one who can guide you towards YOUR vision (NOT a famous artist’s). You will find your audience. And never give up on your journey!

From: Sherry Symington — Nov 03, 2012

Dear Anonymous who started painting at 49, I’d take the “big time artist’s” comments as actually encouraging. If they were so passionate as to tell you to burn your work, they’re either so blown away with jealousy that they want you to cease and desist, or so overcome with feelings your work inspired that they went apoplectic on you. Either one a great compliment. But I hope you’ve read the other comments and take courage to follow your own path, and not worry about “experts”. Remember, van Gogh wasn’t appreciated by “experts” either during his time. Happy painting!

  Getting out of the box by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

oil painting
by Robin Shillcock

In wholehearted agreement with what you recently wrote in response to Catherine Stock’s call for help — it’s all there and may help to push her work in the right direction. My first thought upon seeing examples of her work was: complete lack of light. Notwithstanding a level of accomplishment, her paintings don’t give the feeling that I am looking at real people, with bodies that occupy space, have weight, are touched by light, and create shadows. Her high-key palette excludes the opportunities of chiaroscuro. I’m supposing she paints her portraits as commissions and wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she has a degree of success, because I’m sure there are people who would like to see their loved ones so delicately captured for posterity. Using chiaroscuro need not only imply using stark effects of light and shade. It could be applied toned-down or toned-up, in which contrasts are grouped in other extremes of the value range. It could also mean making use of more unexpected lighting effects, like the afternoon sun striking below the heads of a sitter, which would certainly add a little mystery to a portrait, besides giving it a sense of time and place. Light, in itself a “Deus ex machine,” offers endless possibilities in giving life to a painting. Being stingy with light may offer opportunities like putting the sitter completely in the shade and letting reflected light define shape and character, no doubt a more perilous course to take when working on commissions. I find that many portrait painters remain too much within “the box” — wholly understandable, because they pay the bills by reproducing not only the sitter but also themselves in each subsequent painting. But there are also great exceptions to this rather boring rule: artists who manage to bring freshness and a new interest to the art of portraiture.   About the letters by Lea Lyon, Richmond, CA, USA  

watercolour painting
by Lea Lyon

I absolutely loved this post of yours. It came at a perfect time. Besides the quote from Winston Churchill, are the rest of the words yours? Brilliantly written. I’m printing it and putting it on my bulletin board. (RG note) Thanks, Lea. People write here every day and ask if I write my Twice-Weekly letters myself. I do. Except for the quotes. Sometimes I start with a quote and work backwards, but most often the material is just taken from my daily life of painting. And when that lets me down, I always find great questions and ideas from fellow artists in my email. I’ll tell you, Lea, I just love writing these letters. I love making a contribution to the lives of others and I like to keep aware of who I am and what I do. There are 4 comments for About the letters by Lea Lyon
From: Rosemary Claus-Gray — Oct 18, 2012

Thank you, Bob. I look forward to your twice weekly letters, and savour them.

From: Anonymous — Oct 19, 2012

Robert your letters and discussions have an EVEN wider audience that you could possibly know. I share quotes from you and your essays with my adult art students in a “thought for the day” several times a week and try to give them encouragement and ideas. I always refer them back to this newsletter for more inspiration as well. I find the amazing amount of writing and thought you put into these just incredible. I keep thinking you’ll run out of topics. But, it isn’t going to happen, is it!!!!

From: Gavin Logan — Oct 19, 2012

You should know that your letters and site are the most useful and inspirational things for artists on the Internet. This is because you yourself exemplify the struggles of a real artist who has inner peace, quiet personal integrity, and financial success.

From: Catherine McLay — Oct 20, 2012

I love your dog painting, Lea!


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Perfect happiness

From: Russ Hogger — Oct 15, 2012

Thanks Robert, there’s only one thing worse than being a perfectionist and that is to work for one.

From: kathy Gurry cotter — Oct 16, 2012

Thank you, Robert, for putting down a logical explanation of my twenty years of painting.

From: Doug Mays — Oct 16, 2012

Robert Fritz refers to “the divide between their high standards and actual performance” as ‘structural tension’. It’s good to create structural tension for many reasons too numerous to mention here.

From: BG — Oct 16, 2012

I have been told to paint what I love and know best, well for me this is like striving for perfection because I love a lot of stuff, and I know some stuff, so what the heck do I do?

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Oct 16, 2012

Thanks, Robert for explaining why I keep going back to the studio working on more projects – perfection! The happiness is in the pursuit of the painting for me not the achievement of perfection. Although I admit there is a bit of the perfectionist in me.

From: Gavin Logan — Oct 16, 2012

An open mind permits an understanding of the limits of perfection and an insight into the possibilities of happiness.

From: Dwight — Oct 16, 2012

To me perfection means completely done. Who wants that? We work to get better, of course. Some may be considered the “best”, but that’s a matter for subjective judgement. The real thing is the journey.

From: Gail Caduff-Nash — Oct 16, 2012
From: Kay Enyart — Oct 16, 2012
From: Elver Pede — Oct 16, 2012

The idea is to bring work as near to perfection as possible, and most of the angst about getting it out into the world goes away.

From: Hunter Calder — Oct 17, 2012

This is a great letter. Thanks for that. I’ll get going on my new project straight away. It is 30 degrees C in Oz as I write. How is it up there? Just giving you food for thought on climate as a motivational spur to creativity!!!

From: Mary Jean Mailloux — Oct 17, 2012

This letter is a keeper like some others which I have printed and put up in my studio or brought along with me to discuss with friends. It touches on a question I asked of you some weeks ago on the subject of having an ideal in advance of starting a painting and the possible disappointment when the results didn’t meet expectations. I wondered if you always knew in advance how you were going to go about achieving a certain look, effect, etc.

From: Siobhan Dempsey — Oct 17, 2012

Maybe you work from a collective conscious Robert. Since I started receiving your mail every one has been relevant to that very state of mind feeling thought behaviour artistic confusion delusion anomaly that I’m in and I’m really grateful for all your ideas and creative approaches to life living and art.

From: Laurel McCallum — Oct 17, 2012

During the sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, I saw the need to create light from one room to another. It would be necessary to create a hole at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling, so that the light would flow over into the dark room. But upon inspection, it was found that there were already three old, wooden framed windows there … hidden by debris. The windows were closed even though you could see through the glass. The understanding came swiftly – to really feel the light, the windows must also be open, hanging freely.

From: Judith Pickard — Oct 17, 2012

“We live our short spans in the vortex of a miracle…”

I just wanted to say how beautiful (and true) this thought is and how beautifully you expressed it.
From: Ratindra Das — Oct 17, 2012

I always strive to have a perfect painting. But I hope the hell that I never get it – for that will be the last day of my life as an artist! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

From: Catherine Stock — Oct 17, 2012

My fabulous architect godfather and mentor told me once is that striving towards a goal, in this case perfection, gives one focus and direction, which is a helluva lot better than chasing one’s tail. Remember the Japanese potters, repeating the same forms over and over again seeking perfection…

From: Elizabeth Christie — Oct 17, 2012

Your words mean a lot to me as I take baby steps in my art.

From: Kim Rody — Oct 17, 2012

Your letter is just in time for my dinnerware project. Talk about pitfalls. Try, try again. Strange I should open your email just now.

From: Mary Gilkerson — Oct 17, 2012

Deep wisdom here! There is so much joy in the moment. Easy to forget, hard to hold onto but an absolute necessity.

From: Russ Hogger — Oct 17, 2012

I never consider a painting finished, only that it has reached a point of visual discovery that seems right.

From: Ted Martinez — Oct 18, 2012

You have a great site and I often find some solace in knowing I am not alone out their. When I was commercial art doing procuct and story illustrations I became used to deadlines and would, at times, stay up al night to meet them.

Now, however, I find it hard to decide what painting ( my choice ) is more important as some are frozen in time and others concern developing events and perspectives change when moe research on the subject has changed
From: Frank Nicholas — Oct 19, 2012

My great watercolor instructor, Marian Bagley, once told us that not all paintings turn out. When they don’t, then don’t sign them… lay them aside for awhile. You might like them better a little later. I teach my kids to be careful with staining colors. If something seems troubling on the painting, pool clean water over that immediate area, a sop it up with a piece of paper towel. Sometimes most of the stain can be removed. All is not lost. Try again.

From: Rick Rotante — Oct 19, 2012

More important than perfection is happiness. To strive for perfection is futile; to work toward being better is more practical and leads to happiness which leads to better practice which makes you happy and on and on. Its been my experience that perfection is sterile. the analogy for me would be the end of the road. End of this journey. When we look back on our beginnings what do you remember? The struggle to be happy with what we produce! For me, everytime I finish a work, which I put everything into, invariably, I feel it was okay but I could do better. Perfection is not a place to be, its a state of mind to work toward…and never reach.

From: Barbara Tuzzeo — Oct 20, 2012

Love your beautiful painting “Morning at Germich Farm” Lori.

From: tom hoffmann — Oct 20, 2012

Watercolor has been my primary medium for almost 40 years, and my work has become ever looser over that long span. Letting go of specificity is a struggle for a double Virgo, but after all this time I have learned that, for me, the key is to keep broadening the range of what works. “Perfect” has been replaced by “perfect enough”. This is not to say that my standards are lower – I still want a kind of perfection – it’s just that the territory is much wider than I ever knew. Instead of staring at the scene to see exactly how something looks and then working to duplicate that visual reality, I try to see the few aspects of the subject that have to be “correct”, and let the fluidity of the paint take care of the rest. Instead of just one perfect solution there are an infinite number of combinations of washes and strokes that will serve as a perfect enough translation of the subject. The wider the range of marks that will do the job, the more carefree the application of the paint can be.

From: Cornelia Sale-Zienta — Oct 23, 2012
From: Cornelia Sale-Zienta — Oct 23, 2012

I was glad to see Tom Hoffmann’s remarks about watercolor, as I’ve struggled with this media for several years off and on. He says it “perfectly’ and that perfectly is to the eye of the person who loves that painting, and we don’t have to be perfect as it has been discussed.

Also, It’s helpful to keep some earlier work to see how you’re progressing. I’ve always been grateful that earlier work of great painters are treasured as you can see this progression, and not be so discouraged when just starting out in painting.
From: Jo MacDonald — Oct 26, 2012

If you are happy, then just hang up your brushes, you have nothing else to pursue.

     Featured Workshop: Kathleen Carrillo
101912_robert-genn Kathleen Carrillo workshops Held in Mexican Riviera   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.

Morning at Germich Farm

oil painting by Lori Feldpausch, MI, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Gary Eddington of Baltimore MD, USA, who wrote, “My card reads… ‘Creating the illusion of perfection since 1965’ As long as illusion is the goal I can find some peace in my work.” And also Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki of Port Moody, BC, Canada, who wrote, “People often accuse me of perfectionism and at the same time point out all the mistakes I am making. Most of the time I am not bothered by either. BTW weren’t Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong perfect? George Carlin was once again a visionary. And also Sr. Mary Francis G. who wrote, “In your Resource of Art Quotations I found a section on Perfectionism with 139 quotes. ‘Indiscriminate pursuit of perfection infallibly leads to mediocrity.’ (Henry Fuseli) Thank you.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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