Thursday, January 29, 2009

Real painters paint

I get nervous when I read platitudes on
what "real" painters do. But what are the
rules? There's only one truth we know for sure
about painters -- they paint. Other than that
I think how they paint, what they paint, when they paint,
what their studios look like will be as different
as the colours of birds are from region to region.

What's so cool about this blogging artist community
is that we can learn what other painters are doing,
and change the parts of our process that we aren't
satisfied with. But we can't lay down laws for one

It amused me so much at a famous watercolour
painter's workshop when the people in the class
kept changing the water in the master's giant
water tin can. He'd be right in the middle of
dipping his brush during a demo and a woman
would dart in and take that dirty water away
again to change it. The artist was oblivious except
for the fact that the water had disappeared,
and then he'd laugh.

Turns out "real" painters in his books don't change
their watercolour water every five minutes, and
maybe not every day. Were his watercolours clean,
majestic, pure in colour, beloved by everyone? --

My standard for real painting, is someone who
paints. Sure some people are more amateur
than others, but watch out. I've seen students
zoom ahead of their teachers in less than a year.
Another rule shot.

One of my friends frequently repeats this maxim,
and I think it applies nicely to rules: Take the best,
leave the rest.

Kitchen study
acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
(the blues in the photo read as the same,
but they aren't. But seeing the image
I see that I need to change that.)

I am working on a little painting, I showed you
awhile ago. I'm not quite done, but I might
change the things that need it tomorrow.

Have a guess-who-rules?-I-do day.


Melinda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara Muir said...

HI Melinda,

You keep freaking me out. I love Janet Fish's work, but don't want to get so real. I do it sometimes though. No I don't think I'm the one to give her lessons. Her glass paintings are the best ever. Thanks for seeing that I'm going for the joy.

I guess I was probably ranting against ranting, which is after all -- ranting. Caught in my own trap!!!

You are too sweet.


Melinda said...

Okay, Barbara, I'm going to try this again because I just couldn't bear the mistake I made! I don't think I should post when not feeling well or after midnight anymore....Thank you for understanding. Here is what I wrote and know for sure:

This "Kitchen Study" has jaw dropping loveliness in the colors and contrasts. I looked at it yesterday and, well, thought that I just want to live in that vase of flowers. You don't "need no stinkin' laws" of art to obey!

You've communicated so much energy, joy and life into the vase and goodness, you are really cooking with paint! Yes, I've lost the right art lingo--nearly rendered speechless.

Reminds me a bit of Janet Fish's work. Do you know her? I kind of think you could give her a lesson or two.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,
You are funny. I keep doing the same
thing with my comments, because I am
always writing fast and after midnight, trying to catch up with my life. Sometimes I have three or four tries on one blog. It would be nice if blogger would let us edit after we post.


Liza Hirst said...

Melinda expressed it so well - you are cooking with paint! I agree whole heartedly with what she says about your work - it is sooo vivid and joyful! The vase with the flowers is definitely my favorite spot in this wonderful painting. For me , as a more realistic painter, it is fascinating how you manage to capture the impression of something like glass and transparency by abstracting. Great!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

Thanks so much. I've been looking at the houses in a neighbourhood near me with new eyes, thinking, "How would Liza paint these?"

I'm glad you like this one. It's not quite done. Some things need to be softened, toned down, or brought into greater focus. But I think I'll be moving back to large works in the next week, so I'll have to finish this.


Muhammad Hassan said...

I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. painter and decorator

Portrait Artist

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!