Beware of Falling in Love

Painting is an act of creativity and intention, but it sometimes, many times, includes acts of destruction large and small. It may be that the one skill that separates the dedicated professional artist from the amateur is the willingness to destroy, obliterate or remove those beautifully painted parts of a painting that, in the artist's judgement, must be changed in order to make the painting work as a whole. The temptation to fall in love with a beautifully painted passage and then hang on to it even when it interferes with the success of the work is completely understandable. Discovering how to paint well is hard work, and going backward to move forward is perhaps not a natural inclination for many of us. 

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent, 1885-86, oil painting, 68 x 60.
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent, 1885-86, oil painting, 68 x 60.

John Singer Sargent used to scrape out areas that he was not happy with and repaint them in order to get his famous bravura brushstrokes in the finish. It's all about doing whatever is necessary in order to work at the highest level. This is a tough lesson for most of us to learn, but a valuable one. In an interview with Thomas Paquette for The Artist's Road, Thomas made the observation that he also goes through extensive revisions of his paintings as he develops them, a process he calls the "phoenix effect," which he states adds immeasurably to the richness and the look of the finished work.

The other skill that many artists employ is the development of multiple preparatory sketches, drawings and paintings before they begin work on what will be the finished work. However, no amount of prep work can guarantee that everything will go as planned in the larger piece, and knowing that, embracing that, is an attitude which can ultimately lead to better paintings. It is wonderful to love what we do, but dangerous to love everything we do.

We hope you'll join us on The Artist's Road for more interesting articles, interviews and step-by-step painting instructions.

–John and Ann


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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.