A Painter’s Desiderata

A Painter's Desiderata

A Painter’s Desiderata

The blank canvas is there as a challenge, not to terrorize you • Paint like a locomotive • Don’t try to frost the cake before it is baked • A painter’s life is not for the faint of heart • You will learn more from one hundred starts than you will one hundred finishes • Begin with red, yellow, and blue and expand upon that • Nothing becomes more obvious in a painting than boredom • Don’t eat the paint • Inspiration is for amateurs • Beware of the workshop teacher who quotes too many maxims (ha!) • Painting is a verb, not a noun • Put enough paint down to be able to push it around • Painting isn’t hard: you just have to put the right color in the right place, in the right shape, at the right time • Art is a crazy way to make a living, so just deal with it • Acknowledge your inner child and encourage creative play, but ignore the tantrums • Painting is not like having an affair, it is more like being married with children • And speaking of children – your paintings are not your babies – Be willing to drown, strangle, or expose them to the elements should it become necessary • Mimesis is fancy art-speak for “Hey, it looks like a photograph” • Draw, draw, draw – then go draw some more • Ask yourself as you paint “Is it art yet?” If so, put the brush down • Be bold, be proud, be polite • It ain’t the paint, it ain’t the brushes, and it ain’t the canvas. It’s you • Look first, paint second • Check out an artist’s work before you let him go on too long about it • Don’t keep reworking the fun passages as they are certain to go downhill • When you attend another artist’s opening leave your business cards and portfolio at home • Paint is unpredictable so remain open to being surprised • Painting is not a race unless you are working under the sun or against the tide • The best way to preserve a brush is to never let it dry out • All art is abstract • Be a poet, not a reporter • For goodness sake, simplify! • The fewer the touches, the better the brushwork • A signature is not enough to justify a painting • Paint for the ages but don’t overlook the now • There is no “Secret Sauce of ye Olde Masters” guaranteed to transform your work • Search for the beauty in the ugly for it is often unpainted territory • When you are painting try to forget you are painting • Yes, you may be an artist but it is better to let others introduce you as such • Disconnect all ego from your work or life will become painful • The term ‘tortured artist’ is oxymoronic because painting should be a joy • Selling a painting does not mean it was good, and conversely, not selling a painting does not mean it was bad • Be sure to have fun while you paint because if that is all you get then at least you got that • Color can be irksome and idiosyncratic. Need proof? Mixing yellow and black does not make darker yellow, it makes green • Stop assaulting your viewers with too much detail • If you think you have ‘arrived’ as a painter then you haven’t • Every artist is emerging, no matter the age • Don’t paint just the cupcakes in life, paint the turds too • If you don’t know how to paint, but want to learn how, marry someone who can • Don’t overprice yourself because your work does nobody good stored in your closet • Be on the lookout for the crazy nut-bars in this business, and be polite when you run into them because some of them have money • If somebody insists upon telling you how great an artist your are, don’t argue • ‘Kontent is King’ so choose your subjects carefully as you may end up painting them over and over again • The key to success is remembering what you want and following through • If someone absolutely insists upon telling you what Art is supposed to be, begin nodding your head gently, take a slow step back, and then politely excuse yourself • Beautiful brushwork is like a fine cup of tea – something best served up fresh and consumed with appreciation • Leave the histrionics out as they seldom add much • A cynic is a failed romantic • Let me elaborate on that further: a cynic is a failed romantic and irony is a literary device with no place in a painting • Watching a video or reading a how-to-paint book is like watching or reading about sex – both can be instructive, but never a satisfying substitute • When critiquing your own work learn how to form your own conclusions – after all, the only opinion that counts is yours…

For more general craziness, and perhaps a few actual helpful painting tips, visit Thomas’s informative blog at www.thomaskitts.com.

Upcoming OPA Events

OPA 2018 National Exhibition OPA 2018 National Exhibition
Oil Painters of America’s Twenty-seventh Annual National Exhibition will be held at the Steamboat Art Museum (SAM), Steamboat Springs, Colorado, from June 1 through September 3, 2018. Learn More!
OPA 2016 Summer Online Showcase OPA 2018 Spring Online Showcase
The Spring 2018 Online Showcase is from March 1 - May 15, 2018 and will be open to Associate members only. Learn More!