Last week I was talking about a space feeling “right.” This week is about a painting feeling “right.”
I mentioned last week that when I walked into a room I liked being able to feel comfortable and have the space around me feel that ever-elusive feeling of “right.” The same thing happens regarding a painting. I find I can design a thing to death, and yet still something can feel “off.” Is it an innate sense of balance or harmony talking to me and I am not listening?
Ugh. Those nice, floaty, undefined terms applied to art. BALANCE. HARMONY. Where can I purchase some of that? Can I get it through Amazon Prime?
But I know you know what I mean. I am sure you have felt it too. And I can give examples of paintings that everyone agrees is visually “harmonic” but how to get it? Implement it?
Sometimes it is a gut reaction. I had an oil painting I was working on recently and I knew I wanted a sense of light glowing on the figure. But it just felt wrong to try and “render” it and paint it “perfectly.” So, after ignoring the painting for a few days, the next time I saw the painting my gut told me to grab a rag, dip it in the color of the light and rub it – fast and furious- all over the front of the figure. It worked. Better than I ever thought it would have if I had thought about it too much. (sorry, it’s a tease, but I can’t show you the work- still not finished yet)
Vincent van Gogh wrote the following to his brother in a letter …
“If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good – many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm – and that’s a lie. That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.”
Imbecility. Yes, that fits. When you turn off your brain and just go with your gut reaction a beautiful “grace” can sometimes be tapped into. Maybe we instinctually know on a subconscious level what needs to be done to an image to make the image feel complete or graceful- if we can only get out of our own way.
Or maybe we just get lucky. I don’t know. But the desire for harmony is there. The reaction is real and feels fantastic when something “clicks.” Turn down the brain and turn on the heart.
Or, my humble advice is to take a shot of whiskey before starting to paint.