Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Problem with Commissions

On occasion I have been asked to paint a painting as a commission, perhaps the same as another painting of mine that has been seen and liked.  As much as I would like to accept, I always refuse.  I try to explain that  it is impossible to duplicate a painting, that no one painting is ever the same as another.  However, this is a difficult concept for people to understand and I think they often wonder why I won't do it.

Recently I was delighted to read James Elkins writing about this individuality of every brushstroke in every painting:

"...each painting would insist on its own uniqueness, because no mark can be like any other, and no picture can duplicate another....  A painting or drawing...is unique, and so is every mark on it.  As every artist knows, a single brushmark can never be retrieved: if it is painted over, it is gone, and no matter how many times the same hand passes over the same inch of canvas, the mark can never be reproduced.  Every mark is a different beginning ...."    P. 41, "What Painting Is" by James Elkins.

If every brushstroke is unique, you can imagine how a whole bunch of brushstrokes can never add up to the same painting.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"What Painting Is" by James Elkins

How is it that this man (I mean the author, not Rembrandt) understands so much about the studio?  Here Elkins writes about paint as a creeping virus:  "...the paint gradually finds its way onto every surface and every possession....   Sooner or later every one of a painter's possessions will get stained.  First to go are the studio clothes and the old sneakers that get the full shower of paint every day.   Next are the painter's favorite books, the ones that have to be consulted in the studio.  Then come the better clothes, one after another as they are worn just once into the studio and end up with the inevitable stain."   P. 148, James Elkin, "What Painting Is."  Routledge, 1999.

No matter how careful I am, if I wear something nice in the studio, it gets paint on it.