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.
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.
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!