On painting flowers…

The minute the artist attempts to imitate, capture, render every detail of the flower, he will lose what first inspired him: the spacious life and beauty of it. Too much attention to detail tends to confine vision, and imitation excludes individuality. The dictum “less is more” is especially true in painting flowers.

I’ve found that you have to see through the lens of feeling. Then and only then can you move beyond looking from the outside in—to a standpoint that proceeds from the innermost looking out: translating your world through the language of art, beauty, perfection, soul.

You begin to see the part in relation to the whole, and details serve rather than dominate the composition and vision. The height of inspiration is equal to the depth of feeling. This is my recipe for painting flowers.

To the artist the opposite of simplicity (beauty) is ego and fear. It is the ego that obsesses over detail; fear that drives us to second guess the innermost inspirations. Monet never let details overwhelm him, and would often measure the beauty of his paintings by comparing them to a rock. Perhaps , it was the same “rock” William James talked of:  laying in the field, it’s picked up  by a hiker but is largely ignored, whereas a “watch” which he has found in the same field is the object of  his praise  for its beauty, design and evidence of intelligence. Monet forever the pragmatist realized the superiority of nature.

At a certain point in painting, as in life, you may have to give up all your careful planning. You are pressed on all sides with confusing choices. What colour for the background? How do I proceed from here? At this juncture it’s best to be calm and listen.

Ask yourself “what is the concept, essence I want to express? What details are necessary? Then listen some more. Soon you will see what needs to be done: the painting will begin to emerge both in part and whole, and dictate its own direction.

Hang a painting on a wall and you’ll notice that it adds space, actual living space. Take that painting off the wall, and you feel its absence. To look at a painting is a “visual experience” that requires a deeper seeing and engagement: at its best, it prompts inner discernment, both thought and feeling.  Deep thinking results in the deepest of feelings. This in turn illumines and transforms our living space.


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