April 2013 – The Making of a Masterpiece

I recently read an article entitled “The Making of a Masterpiece” by Richard McKinley, in the Pastel Journal Magazine. McKinley discusses what it takes for an artist to go from a blank sheet of paper or canvas to a masterpiece. It’s not so simple as picking up the pencil and drawing. In fact the development of the masterpiece is a journey and the length of that journey is dependent upon a multitude of factors.

Commit to Practice

Commit to Practice

“An aspiring artist’s early painting years are generally spent in apprenticeship, focused on acquiring the ability to draw accurately, represent value relationships properly and produce a sense of nature’s innate color harmony. All of these skills require great physical and mental facility.”

No matter what your medium or preference of subject matter, before all else, comes theory. Theory is the basis from which you grow, the rules that you learn, some you keep, some you break and some you rewrite… either way you need it as a foundation.

 As an artists I do a lot of reading whether it is on colour mixing or the fundamentals of drawing. There is so much one can use to strengthen their skill. There’s a lot to learn from more experienced artists as well. Sometimes I studying their work, listen to recaps of their own journeys… McKinley is right in that it requires a great mental and physical capacity because it can be far too much to take in sometimes. It can be difficult to determine what aspects you can master now and which you are simply not yet ready for. That is a whole other discussion (acceptance…phew! We’ll do that on another day!)

Know Your Purpose

 Know Your Purpose

“Being reminded of the purpose, or concept, that motivates you to paint a specific subject or scene is central to evolving as an artist, once technical mastery is achieved. Without purpose, it’s easy to fall prey to technical perfection devoid of feeling.”

The meaning behind it all… Without having some form of a philosophy or purpose behind your work, it will be difficult for viewers and art appreciators to find some connection. More importantly, it can be difficult for the artists themselves to form some connection.

For me…I am intrigued by the numerous transformations and journeys that people undergo in life. Each face tells a story. So naturally, there’s something about portraiture which resonates deeply with me. When completing a portrait, I aim to bring out the essence of a person. It is my intention for the portrait to bear a likeness not only to the person’s features but also their character.

I’m also drawn by the simplest forms of beauty… commonplace beauty. I feel that one can take a common object and create something beautiful and meaningful by remaining highly sensitive to the subtleties of light and shadow.

In summary that’s my purpose. It’s a constantly changing purpose, but it’s always on my mind and helps me to develop those needed connections.

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Reveal the Practice & Inspire A response

Reveal the Practice & Inspire a Response

“While I strive for a conscientious imitation, I yet never for an instance lose the emotion that has taken hold of me. Reality is one part of art; feeling completes it… Before any site and any object, abandon yourself to your first impression. If you have really been touched, you will convey to others the sincerity of your emotion.

“Artists can communicate the emotional connection they feel for subject matter by using a style that reinforces the main concept and allows a degree of mystery to permeate a painting.

This is my favorite of Richard McKinley’s suggestions. But it’s also the hardest. It can be difficult to remove yourself from an image so that you are not simply creating the same things again… not creating a copy, a mere imitation. The making of a masterpiece involves infusing work with your own originality and style.

I remember one day I was painting a picture of a Bermuda house and my art instructor asked me why I was painting it. My mind went blank, all I could think of was, ” it’s pretty and I thought it would look nice“. Then she asked, “how does it relate to your style and artist philosophy, to what you have to share with the world”… and after some thought I said “umm I guess it doesn’t“. Of course she then said “so why are you wasting your time painting it, never waste your time and materials doing what does not truly come from you“. And to this very day that is the best advice I’ve ever received! It’s important to reveal the practice, bring it to it’s greater purpose and inspire a response.

Richard McKinley brings a some light to a few overlooked concepts. After all art and artists are really about far more than what we see at face value only!