One problem that artists have at the beginning arises from a misapprehension.  When seeing a painting in a museum, people often think that that’s it.  They see a complete, whole and finished thing and mistakenly suppose that the artist just painted it.  Such a task, anyone would acknowledge to be difficult, but to create ex nihilo — which is often what people mistakenly suppose artists do — would be really, very hard — perhaps impossible.  In fact most complex pictures have lots of studies that lie behind them.  Studies can take many forms, but usually they exist.  Typically they are not on display.  They reside in the background.  They lie stored in a drawer in the artist’s studio.

What defines a study?  One might say that it’s any work of art that takes a separate aspect of an idea and pursues it in isolation.  When you study old masters’ techniques, you find many such drawings that rehearse ideas that are later used in completed paintings. 

So, it’s “okay” to take an idea apart and pursue it in bits.  The drawing at the top of the post is that kind of drawing.  I was interested in the drapery and drew it in isolation.  To create this drapery I had first made a photograph — but even the photograph is part of the pursuit of an idea.  I’m still not certain where it’s going.  Or if it’s going anywhere.

The figure has no head or face and hardly any arms.  These details don’t matter at this juncture, and I left them out.  The details here are to drawing what scales are to music.  This is a drawing of riffs and phrases.  Such things have their own charms.

[Top of the post:  Drapery Study, by Aletha Kuschan, colored pencil on Nideggen paper]

2 thoughts on “Making Difficult Pictures

  1. First of all thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment. I really appreciate that.
    I surely had to come here and take a look at your art.
    The first thing I saw was this drawing and I find it very beautiful and appealing. It has a fragile feel about it and a dynamic that is really intriguing.
    I think it was John Henry, who said, that sometimes a sketch can be more complete than a finished painting.

  2. Thank you for your kind words. And I hope the comment helped. It’s difficult knowing how to judge paintings, but one doesn’t want the judgements (whatever they are) to become more than the paintings themselves. There is, after all, a reason one paints. And that needs to be given its due also.
    Speaking for myself, sometimes I enjoy painting so much that I hardly care about the result, which ironically can make a striving after a high goal lighter — since I know that I can keep plugging away, new ideas, other pictures. We usually have more choices than we realize.
    So, we paint. And bon courage to us both.

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