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Re: Student Teacher question


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Sep 02 2004 - 05:35:58 PDT

> Her work so far seems to be about the difficulty of
> deciding which is the most important part of art assessment - is it the
> finished product or is it the process?

> more a teacher attitude rather than government rulings that she is
> after.
> Gina
> Melbourne

I'd like to share a few thoughts as a teacher and painter of some years.
I spent nearly 20 years developing, building, attaining, then working to
maintain a reputation in wildlife art, all of which today I feel along with
50 cents would buy me a cup of coffee. I did learn much about painting, the
disciplines of being an artist, the business side and so forth.

Competitions, results, other's evaluations of your worth as an artist are
all on the final product, the image. Right down to judges counting the rows
of scales you paint on a trout to the number of feathers you paint on a

Then about eight years ago...I came to the end of myself more or less, and
decided to leave the studio to paint outdoors. Painting on location with
fickle light leaves you ending each session with an unfinished hurried
painterly work that initially strikes you as embarrassing. Compared to the
paintings I did with 200 to 300 hours in them, these attempts in 2-3 hours
time hardly argued for the talent I had come to be known by.

Yet I internally knew that this was an honest, direct form of painting.
There was integrity in it, and I was beginning to see what Sargent was
referred to as "the great observer" because my eye was seeing so much more
with nature as the teacher. To make the transition and not lose heart, I
had to give myself permission as a painter to do what I was doing.

It took my agent discovering a pile of these smaller plein airs in the
corner of my studio and insisting on showing them to galleries to learn that
there was an aesthetic beauty inherent in such honest direct works that
would find appeal in patrons.

In short...I adopted the attitude of ceasing to be important and having to
prove something by my work, to seeing painting as an opportunity to embrace
the moment and celebrate life. Painting or the "process" became a vehicle
for me to engage the moment.

I often tell others it takes about 120 bad paintings to learn something
about painting, and even Edgar Degas himself once said, "painting is easy
when you don't know how but very difficult when you do!" I stuck with
it...producing an average of 100 paintings a year over the past 7-8 years.
A style is emerging thru the process, but I myself am not fighting to make
it happen. I am being rewarded for celebrating.

Too many artists look for justification for their painting, to recover costs
of supplies, time invested and seek acceptance. They are seeking a bit of
immortality in being remembered after they are gone. Artists, so obsessed
with future gain they miss the moment. On the other hand, the irony
is...people in the world are looking for reasons to accept and enjoy the
moment and they find connection in an artist's work that has done so
courageously, intimately...honestly.

Product worries about what should be....whereas processing takes all in for
that moment for what it is. When you celebrate with your craft, that spirit
seems to transfer and is picked up by the viewer. For a work to have power,
it must prove to have been first of interest to the artist to be of interest
to the patron. I am finding that to be a truth after so so many years doing
this. Hope that helps....

Larry Seiler

My book on Landscape Painting-

Signature member of NAPPAP- "National Academy of Professional Plein Air

"Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm!"
Winston Churchill