Finally a question...
I know Robert Genn gets questions all the time, I never do but then he posts twice a week like clockwork and I never do. Once in a while I get one, Carol P asks... "I’m curious what type of painting would cause you to spend more time than (the) plein air quick study ‘pirate’….your pirate is so believable....". And to refresh your memory, here's the pirate she was referring to
A quick study is literally that, it's quick and it's a bit of learnin', sometimes to practice my swing, sometimes to show something to a class or on most occasions, to build up a library of paintings to use as reference for the more finished studio paintings. During the paint-outs we have a thing called a quick draw, which I used to love because it's more like a sport. Now the bloom is off the rose. The idea is to create a "finished" painting in 2 hours or so. Many of us can do this because we have learned to start and mostly finish a smallish painting in that time. For the record, there is an inherent freshness in painting that fast and leaving a lot undone. Some of my favorite paintings are that way. A whole lot of loose and a little bit of tight. Sargent is like that.
You look at a Sargent and it looks like he just slapped down his perfection using as few brush strokes as possible but it's tight where it needs to be. That ability comes from two things; doing a lot, a ton, ten thousand studies AND scraping off the stuff that looks labored or awkward and doing it over. I haven't actually gotten to the second part because if I scraped everything I don't like I'd never get it done. Having a very short attention span, I love the one or two hour paintings but for me it's not high art. A great painting takes a lot of time and research and study and failure and thought and trials and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
To answer Carols question, there is a time for the quick study and there is a time for the labored, slow, thoughtful piece, the kind you want people to remember you by. I just finished the first in hopefully a long series of paintings of artists in their studios. I love the landscape, I do, there is a big challenge in making a painting that both presents the grandeur of nature and satisfies the desire to create a thing. But there's no narrative and I like a narrative.
While on a recent trip to the Baltimore area I visited a gallery with an artist friend and without my doing anything other than being in the right place at the right time, got picked up for a show about every day moments. I told her about this series that I'd been thinking on, the artists in their surrounds and she said, "Great!". So here's the first of many, I hope. I wanted to get a certain amount of loose and a little bit of tight and though I didn't quite get the percentage I was looking for, I like it. I like the overall composition and wish I had left a little more undone and there are about five really decent brush strokes in there so, all in all, I got enough to go on to the next finished piece.