August 2014 – Painting and Personality

Richard McKinley recently posted an article entitled “Nothing to Lose” on the Pastel Pointers Blog. The article served as a reminder about how much personality plays a role in the way we do things.

But above all else, recognising this can enable us to make changes and adjust where necessary to enable ourselves to grow further. This is no different for artists. Beyond the choice of subject and style, it’s interesting to see how painting and personality mingle.

Here is an excerpt from McKinley’s posts which struck a chord with me as soon as I read it:

The mid-stages of a painting are where we often confront two scenarios: boredom or confusion. For the impatient painter, boredom is a curse that leads to hurried marks. The enthusiasm for the painting has waned and they just want to be done. Confusion is that point in a painting where we just don’t know what to do. We are driving along, liking what we were seeing, and all of the sudden there is a tree across the road. When these mid-painting scenarios occur it is best to stop, take a break, and divert attention to a new project.

Source: Richard McKinley – Pastel Painters Blog

I couldn’t help but smile as I read this because am I ever guilty! I experience both sides of this, the impatience and confusion when working on particular pieces. This is the very reason why the artists are always encouraged to have a multitude of projects going simultaneously. Essentially it’s the key to avoiding a creative disaster! Sometimes our brains need a break from looking at the same piece for extended periods of time. And if you’re like me, while you’re working on one piece, you’re already thinking about the next! The break allows you to refuel the creative energy for that piece and look at it again with a fresh eye, which is why we usually notice what changes need to be made and exactly what our next move is. Taking that break has proved vital in my experiences.

For many artists, the finish of a painting is the most difficult stage. This stage is where both enthusiasm and fear can play a major part.  Many good paintings end up weaker with overwork and many okay paintings could have been better with a bit more. Individual personality really comes into play here. Some artists need to have the painting taken way and others need to be encouraged to do more.

Source: Richard McKinley – Pastel Painters Blog

So which are you? Are the perfectionists that keeps going back to make adjustments and risks overworking the piece or do you abandon the piece to early before the necessary final touches. It’s hard to find a balance and I find it helpful to consult with another artists/friends who have an understanding of your medium and “intent”. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what stage your work is at and what is or isn’t needed. I have a tendency to stay too long and risk over working a piece so the second opinions along the way have proved invaluable.

It seems then that painters are not that different than children. There are those that fearlessly enter into every situation, full steam ahead, and those that cautiously wait at the sidelines, tentatively analyzing. Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

Source: Richard McKinley – Pastel Painters Blog

How do painting and personality mingle with you? Do MnKinley’s words resonate with you at all as well?