07 July 2010
At times I don't see much progress in my technical skills. Effort does not always immediately translate into improvement. That's when it helps to compare my work over time. The paintings above are from a class I just finished with Jeff Watts called "Portrait in Oil: Exploring Different Lighting". They're in sequence from first (at the bottom) to most recent (at the top). Each week I painted a 9x12 portrait in about 2.5 hours from life. Timed portraits are exhilarating because you don't have time to mess around. Make your decision and move on. They're about learning, not about a nice finish. Good practice. I think I see some progress here between the first and last portraits. Mainly, I see my brushwork improving and I'm getting more paint on the canvas. Baby steps.
Marc Delassio posted a worthwhile blog entry with some thoughts on this topic of improvement over time. The graph at the bottom of the post says it all IMO. Technical skill and artistic progress (real or perceived) are not always directly related. Progress is unpredictable and non-linear. You never know when lessons learned will finally gain traction and kick in. What a thrill and relief when they finally do.