Baby steps in artwork

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sat, 03 Jun 2006 11:03:52 GMT  <== Philosophy ==> 

Claire Wolfe - nice pastel of a gnarled tree trunk and a reminder that art is not all talent. My experience tells me that art is mostly learning to "see". Once you can see what's really there, it's a matter of practice to be able to create a rendition on paper. Of course, genuis, like Van Gogh's work, is another thing entirely. [clairefiles]

Then a couple weeks ago, I picked up a biography of Vincent van Gogh. Years ago, I was privileged to see an exhibit of van Gogh's work. To say I was blown away is like saying an a-bomb produces a modest blast. I made my way around the exhibition, which was in chronological order from the dark, dreary, early Dutch drawings and paintings to the glorious, half-mad, totally mad outbursts of color van Gogh produced in his final two years.

The paintings became more vivid as viewers progressed through the galleries. I stood before "Crows Over a Wheat Field," (which legend says is the last thing he painted before committing suicide) and I could hardly take it in. If you've seen those late van Gogh paintings in books, trust me, you haven't really seen them. You have to stand in front of them. And even then, eyes simply weren't made to take in so much. I staggered out of that museum, wiped out.

What I didn't know, but what I saw in the biography, was that when van Gogh decided, at age 27, that he was going to be an artist, he couldn't draw or paint at all.

He did come from an artistic family. A couple of his childhood drawings show so much skill that he surely copied them or perhaps is credited with work his talented mother actually did. Because at 27, his drawings were about as good as a modestly skilled 12-year-old's. They sucked. I'd have advised him to follow a career in sanitation engineering. Ten years later ... sheer &^%$#@ing, mind-blowing genius.

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