©2018, Molly Larson Cook, 22 x 28, acrylic on canvas
The Dog Days of August are upon us…the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer with heat waves everywhere on the planet. This weather is conducive to one thing for artists – doing as little as possible.
Not that we’re not doing anything. We’re just doing the little things like reorganizing our supplies, tossing brushes beyond any possible further use except possibly in a collage of “Old Brushes,” rearranging our stock of canvases, browsing magazines and books for articles and ideas.
But actual painting – not so much.
Of course, I really speak only for myself but as the song has it, “It’s too darned hot…” not only for cozying up with somebody you love but for inspired work. When I lived in Manhattan, nothing got done in August. For one thing all the therapists went on vacation leaving a city of neurosis-bound creative folks and for another thing, well, it was August.
The other thing about August where I live is that the beach is always calling. For those of us who work in something other than small plein-air paintings, we’re unlikely to haul our paints and canvas, tools and workspace to a sandy beach where we’d rather be lounging, splashing in the ocean, slathering on the sunscreen, and maybe enjoying something icy cold to drink.
While I’m idling the days away before September, I’m considering words from my old friends Bayles & Orland from Art & Fear, this time about the juxtaposition of ideas and technique. The authors/artists argue that while technique and technical skill are important to an artist, they’re really not worth much without the ability come up with ideas to go with the skill.
“Compared to other challenges, the ultimate shortcoming of technical problems is not that they’re hard, but that they’re easy…while mastering technique is difficult and time-consuming, it’s still inherently easier to reach an already defined goal – a “right answer” – than to give form to a new idea. It’s easier to paint in the angel’s feet to another’s masterwork than to discover where the angels live within yourself.”
The conversation about technique and ideas will continue. I’d say the ideal is to develop technical skill to match the ideas, but that’s one artist’s opinion. All I know is that for me, the ideas will have to come first. Always.
Now, where did I put that icy cold drink?