Tuesday, July 7, 2020

"You Must Execute Freely"

Stream Bluets at Papermill Run. Acrylic painting in progress. 9x12 inches. Copyright 2020 Ken Januski

  12 May. One finds  that one never has enough learning. The drawings of Ingres -- Decamp's bottles of  fat oil and clear oil -- Not  one false note in the work of men feeling -- Before you begin, study unceasingly, but once started , make mistakes if you must but you must execute freely. The Journal of Eugene Delacroix by Eugene Delacroix, edited by Hubert Wellington, Phaidon.

I'm finding more and more with my acrylic paintings that I don't want to go very far  with them. The fear of overwork and  too much detail/finish/polish  is  almost overwhelming. I've always been this  way but  it  seems particularly  true with my new acrylic paintings. Because of this I did a quick  scan of some of my handwritten notes  on 'The Journal of  Eugene Delacroix,' for  me the most engaging work I've ever read  by a visual artist. I knew he'd written a lot about the danger of finish and  detail.

The quote above is  apt for this painting, not  in the sense that I've  studied  damselflies and streams "unceasingly," but  certainly in  the sense  that  I want to "execute freely."  I  don't  want stultifying brushwork and a painting that feels like all life has been smothered from it. I  thought that I'd try to make some minor  changes to this painting but  having reread this Delacroix quote I'm more tempted to just stop. I want the execution to continue  to  look free.

But I was also looking for  another  Delacroix  quote, one in which  he says studies and such are fine but that at artist doesn't  really test himself without doing something more ambitious and more finished.  I didn't like  the quote when I read, and probably re-read it, years ago  but I always worry that it might be true. One of  these days I'll probably find  it and post  it. But for  now  this  quote seems perfect for this painting. And "high finish"  is something I just can't  do!