Thursday, August 24, 2006

All week I've been working on a painting called Swan Dive, a painting I was never really sure about. It's a picture of someone jumping of a skyscraper, and all of the buildings are made of screaming faces. Now that the underpainting is nearly finished I'm really not sure about it, but it would be a waste of the last four days (and some paint) to abandon it and the image is striking so I might as well continue. This happens to artists a lot I imagine, what was a good idea becoming a less than good picture. It is notable that van Gogh's called most of his paintings, even the most famous ones, studies. Sometimes the problem comes from a lack of thought into the qualites of the final image, and sometimes the idea is clear but the realisation doesn't match it. Another picture of mine, Waiting for B.T. is a perfect example of a sketch that exactly worked but the painting didn't. There's no shame in painting a new version though, in fact such test versions, oil sketches, studies, are technically the correct thing to do and rushing into making just one final version might be considered wrong. I'll often do a rough test version but I'm nervous of adding too much detail to studies in case they turn out better than the final version. When painting, so very much is down to the exact emotion or mood of the painter on the day. The very first explosion of paint is often the best and produces results that can never be recaptured. Indeed van Gogh copied his sunflowers often, but the first version was the best, I think.

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