|Tammy, 9x12", oil on linen|
Recently, I came across a blog post by Paul Foxton of Learning-To-See that mentioned a book called "The Practicing Mind". It's a simple little book on learning to love the practice required to master any skill. One point especially resonated with me, that by slowing down we can accomplish more. This excerpt makes the point...
Incorporating slowness into your process is a paradox. What I mean by slow is that you work at a pace that allows you to pay attention to what you are doing. This pace will differ according to your personality and the task in which you are involved. If you are washing the car, you move the sponge in your hand at a pace slow enough to allow you to observe your actions in detail. This will differ from, say, the slow pace at which you learn a new computer program. If you are aware of what you are doing, then you are probably working at the appropriate pace. The paradox of slowness is that you will find you accomplish the task more quickly and with less effort because you are not wasting energy. Try it and you will see.Following this advice, I slowed way down in a recent alla prima session. I didn't focus on the finish, as I usually do. I didn't dart around the painting trying to figure out what to do next. I didn't get amp'ed up when I realized the mouth was in the wrong place. Using the process I described in an earlier post as guidance, I simply focused on each task until I felt it was completed, then moved on. Slow and deliberate.
I painted "Tammy" (above) during this slow session. To my eye, the results are better brushwork and a more complete painting. I learned more during the session because I was more present and aware. I spent less time correcting errors. And I was more relaxed at the end of the 3-hour session. All good.
|Adam 9x12", oil on linen|
A few weeks earlier, I painted "Adam" using my usual fast alla prima method. A decent portrait, but a simpler handling of the paint and not as complete as "Tammy". I was too rushed.
Slowing down is a simple idea, but it is a breakthrough for me. The kind of simple idea that may get me to the next level in my art more efficiently. It might help you, too.