Friday, December 6, 2013

Heart of Steel

Eastern Towhee at Houston Meadows. Acrylic Painting by Ken Januski.

That's quite a title I admit. I found it while searching online for information regarding my recollection that Delacroix had a hard time letting a painting go, to the point of touching it up while hanging on exhibition. I never found anything regarding that but I did find something similar:

Finishing a painting requires a heart of steel: everything requires a decision and I find difficulties where I least expect them.

After the fact I realized that I might actually be thinking of John Constable or Edgar Degas. Perhaps all three of them had the same problem. In any case Delacroix says it well: a painting is really an orchestration, a visual symphony, of color, tone, shape, light, line, texture, etc. That's why there are so many decisions. Every thing you do affects everything else. Wildlife art or any art that just stresses accuracy in detail misses the only important thing in painting: the visual symphony.

All of which is just an explanation for the state of this acrylic painting of an Eastern Towhee. I think it's done. Every time I've tried to finish it up the marks I made in one area made another area look bad. So it's gone back and forth, back and forth. That's both the good side, and the curse, of acrylic painting. You can change it forever. The answer I think is either to sell it or hang it, in other words get it out of my hands so I can't do anything more with it!

Having worked so long in watercolor and woodcut/linocut where you can't keep changing over and over the freedom of acrylic is a shock. It's largely a pleasant shock. But still there is the problem of when is the painting done. This is something I'm sure all creators are familiar with. At some time you just need to boot the creative project out the door or have someone grab it from you, saving you from yourself. A less desirable alternative, though used by many, is to just destroy it in disgust. I've rarely used this method.

Great Blue Herons at Manayunk Canal. Field Sketches by Ken Januski.

Because of that these field sketches are a welcome relief. They of course don't have the detail of the painting, not even close. But they're fresher and simpler. These are two of the four different Great Blue Herons I saw at the Manayunk Canal the other day. Though there can be frustrations in art work in the long run I consider myself very lucky to be able to spend so much time either sketching outside or doing more developed work in the studio. It can't be beat.

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