The satisfaction of completing work

Since I started painting in earnest, I often compare the proces of painting, under a teacher, with that of writing, with an internal or external editor. We all have internal critics, who sometimes serve us well, telling us when we’ve stuffed up or when something doesn’t work, and sometimes serve us badly by stopping us from taking risks, making a mess, going fearwards. If you have a teacher (as in painting) or and editor (in writing), they take on this function, and sometimes they do a better job than you can do yourself, especially if they have a lot of knowledge and experience. I don’t usually work with an editor for my writing, as I am an editor myself, but I do share my writing with friends, and listen to their feedback. In painting, I am a complete novice. Now, in the last quarter of my life, I’ve plunged into it, after a lifetimes of doing other things, apart from a few brief flirtations with it. Although I don’t visualise when I’m awake, I’ve been told I have a good eye for seeing what is there and putting it on paper. What I need to learn is technique, and also, when to free up (the main style I paint in, with biodiversity as my subject, is traditional realism, fidelity to what I see) and when to make a mess and interpret. This comes in when I’m doing backgrounds. I haven’t done any landscapes yet, and I imagine it will come to the fore more then.

The final step, once you’ve signed off on a painting, is getting it framed, and this is very important. Because it is visual, I think it’s more important than the format, print and cover of a book. Today, I took my framed phascogale (the unframed canvas is below) down to art class, a little anxious that the mount and frame I”d chosen for it were too dark. But no, it’s just that I need better lighting in my living room, a couple of spotlights. Hanging on the wall in the Caldera Gallery at the Rainforest Centre, it looks wonderful, and all the subtleties of colour and texture show up. To my delight, Andy, my teacher, was delighted with it, and said we’ll make some prints of it. His approval means more to me than a good review would because he’s seen it grow, he’s helped me through all the mistakes I’ve made, and I think he was surprised it turned out so well. And I guess the good thing about hanging a framed picture is that people don’t have to pick it up and open it, like they do a book, to appreciate it.

A funny thing happened on the way to the car park, when I was leaving, chatting with a guy who’s in the same class. He said “When I saw you I thought ‘That old bird won’t do much! But I was wrong. It’s fantastic.” I took the compliment, but privately laughed at the context of it. I don’t think of myself as an old bird (and he’s not young), but at least he was honest.




Filed under the satisfaction of publishing a work

15 responses to “The satisfaction of completing work

  1. Marian : The Writing Business

    Yes, you “have a good eye for seeing what is there and putting it on paper” in painting and writing. Congratulations Christina, I can’t wait to see it in its frame.

    • Thank you, Marian. May I say, you have too. And you see often what is not obvious, what is veiled. You can see the phascogale down at the gallery in the Rainforest Centre! Andy loves visitors coming in.

  2. Such a talented woman! Your little animal is very lovely. Thank you for sharing the image and your thoughts.

  3. I’ve said it before, Christina. Stunning stuff. You have such an eye for detail. Just look at the hairs on the tail and the eyes.

  4. Thank you, LIs. I love getting praise, which I feel is praise for the work, for the creature in it, not for me. Yes, eyes are very important. I had to have a few goes at those. And the tail got at least one makeover. Andy urges me to remember my process, the errors and the corrections, in my next work(s). The details matter. A lot of it is down to his patient teaching,

  5. It’s beautiful – at first I thought it was a photo. I like the blend of realism with the impressionist fore- and background areas. Makes this cute little animal pop out of the painting.

    • Thank you! That’s how I feel too. It’s a kind of magic that happened without me being aware of it, while I was labouring over the details, and then when I worked more on the fore- and backgrounds, it started to happen. The animal is what matters, but she wouldn’t be there without her surroundings.

  6. You could definitely see your skills within the work you write.
    The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  7. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost
    a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% certain.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hello Mohamed. No, my blog costs me nothing. It’s free with WordPress. Please google them and follow their instructions. YOu can use one of their themes (background visuals) or use your own, as I have done. It takes a while to get your head around it, but there is a help menu, and you can get support. Good luck.

  8. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing a
    little homework on this. And he actuallky ordered me lunch
    simply because I stumbled upon it for him…lol. So alllow
    me to reword this…. Thankk YOU for the meal!! But yeah,
    thanx for spending some time to talk about thhis issue here on your

  9. A PS to this post. I’ve now gone solo in my art, as my teacher and I fell out. He became too intrusive and seemed to be always wanting me to revise something, even if he’d been happy with it the week before. So I’ve now reached that point I think a lot of students reach, when they realise that the teacher they have admired, respected, perhaps revered, has shortcomings and limitations of their own, and that the student must find their own way, make mistakes, recover, and not defer to someone else’s judgement.

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