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04/25/2006: "Where do *you* draw the line?"
I was showing a friend (who has started taking art lessons recently) some changes I've made to my figures...primarily fixing things like ears placed too high on the head, etc. She was surprised that I take such care because I don't paint realistically. She wondered where I draw the line between taking artistic license by exaggerating form and colors on the one hand, yet doing detailed work and fussing about ear lobes and eye lid shadows on the other hand.
I didnít really know how to answer that. I think there are some basics in terms of how the face and body are organized that I try to stick to.
I get pretty close to those guidelines on the first go round, but I have to go back and fix things that just donít look right to me. The more abstract the work, the less one has to worry about proportions and related rules; ultimately every artist has to look at a piece and make a million little decisions about whatís working and what isnít.
If you look at pieces I did 5 years ago, youíll see that I took a lot more liberties with my figures than I do now. Some may say the work has become tighter, lacking spontaneity perhaps. I like to think of it as more of a refinement process. I know Iím repeating myself, but I think sometimes it takes as much courage to *not* paint ďedgyĒ work (if it speaks to your inner aesthetic), than to work a certain way only because you want to be taken seriously by critics, collectors, and fellow artists. Some artists get completely denigrated (called sell-outs) by their contemporaries simply because they paint beautiful images that donít "say" anything in particular. Peer pressure comes from both sides...at some point you have to put your hands over your ears and say LA LA LA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!