Perfectly Dull

Aycil with Orange Chair Unfinished - Curtis Green
Aycil with Orange Chair Unfinished

I was at the studio of a  good friend and sculptor the other day.  Surrounded by all of his maquettes, sketches, half finished studies, client portraits, public projects, and books upon books, and several flat file drawers full of tools, giant easels and modelling stands, it was the classic example of a full time, hard working and well known artist, complete with skylights softly providing the perfect light into his converted warehouse building.

We were having a stimulating conversation that somehow landed on the idea of extremes; perfect technique versus an intentionally naïve  approach.  Perfection in technique, we seemed to be surmising, especially in the age of the camera, is pointless.  The humorous opinion developed that, nowhere in art does dullness shine brighter, than from the lamp of perfection.  Perhaps, an artist’s technique can get so good and so perfect, that it could become necessary to “pull it back” to allow for the art to exist.   We were jumping off a previous idea that the little actions that are left as they are and not “corrected” can do several things.  One thing is that the so called “dithers” of tool or brush handling adds a certain life to the work, it can add interest that compels us to want to look closer or understand the image more.

Another aspect of “pulling back perfection” is the decision or choice of the artist needing to do so for some reason.   A certain exaggeration, exclusion or purposeful distortion may drive home an excitable energy; or quiet a mood.   Artistic intention can better allow the poetic idea or message to be communicated to the viewer.  In other words, these are the things that turn a perfect rendering, into a work of art.  They are those “certain things” that somehow make an artwork, as we say, resonate.   These choices are given other names in other disciplines as well.  For instance, the term hierarchy may be used in architecture to describe the one thing that is out of the typical pattern that draws our interest.  A composer may need to add minor key against a major key to create some compelling tension in the song or composition.

Ultimately it seems, that it is in our human nature to share our experiences.  The embellishment within the telling of the story is what is really captivating, but of course one must first learn to speak before exercising  artistic license.  Oh, but that certainly, would be another and perhaps very long conversation.

Note: This painting is of my friend and good working partner, Aycil Yeltan who is an actress and art model.  In no way could she be described as dull or uninteresting!  Thanks to her again for posing,  What would we artists do without our hard working models?


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