Wednesday, 30 March 2011


We have just completed a second two-week project at my art class, this time on movement. Inspired by the previous week's subject of Degas, I chose dancers and these two images:
I began by sketching them both in pencil and then roughly painting copies. Last week was cancelled so I used the time to try a couple more rough versions, but was increasingly unhappy and even bored by the picture. At class last night, I steeled myself to paint one, final version, incorporating all that I had learned:

My tutor worked her way round gradually and by the time she got to me I was almost done. She was not impressed. I can tell it's not good when she says that my rough sketches were more successful! She then took a paintbrush and suggested I try something more like 'this', and in two minutes created a fluid and dynamic figure on the page. Disheartened, I added strong lines and sweeping brush strokes to my rigid and inexpert copy and, encouraged by her comments of "That's more like it," felt a little better about my efforts.With less than half-an-hour left, I decided to have one more go, drawing with my brush and 'painting from the shoulder' :

It took me about five minutes. It felt as if all the hours, probably four in total, of struggling with these images had been wasted approaching them from completely the wrong angle. I had managed to paint something really quite good in just five minutes. No, my teacher corrected me, it had taken all four hours plus five minutes because I had to get to the point where I had learned what I needed to know to paint like this. I wonder what else in life feels like a waste but is actually getting me to the place I need to be to create the thing I need to create?

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