8x10" oil on canvas panel
Here's another one hour study. I'm finding these 8x10's rather small but I've had limited time lately so they'll have to do until I can afford to spend more time at the easel.
I'm currently rereading "The Moon and Sixpence" by W. Somerset Maugham. It's about a fictional English painter named Charles Strickland. The story, inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, is about a man who leaves his family and career as a stockbroker in order to become a painter. He's forty years old, has no painting experience and in the view of most people, no talent. Naturally everyone thinks he's mad, and perhaps he is.
The fascinating thing is, he doesn't care at all what people think of his work or his seemingly insane decision to reject his comfortable life. He paints what he wants in a primitive style with no thought or hope of selling anything. As a result he's broke and often hungry. After he dies however, he is appreciated as a great artist and prices for his paintings skyrocket.
What I think Maugham is suggesting here is, in order to achieve greatness an artist must create without the influence of the marketplace or the thought of pleasing an audience. They must follow their creative instinct without thought of fame or financial success.
Obviously this is not easy to do. In some ways artists like Strickland who face technical challenges are at an advantage. The artistic direction of a painter with "talent" will often be determined by the marketplace. It's very hard not to paint what buyers want when they're at the door, money in hand. The technically challenged painter, with little hope of financial success, is potentially free from this temptation.
I find this subject fascinating for obvious reasons. I think all artists who sell their work are faced with this challenge. I've watched "talented" artists churn out variations on the same painting over and over in order to maintain sales. I've also watched their financial success fade as the marketplace eventually deems their work passe and moves on. Any artist that doesn't evolve will eventually find their work out of style.
Anyway, I'm really enjoying the book. Strickland is hardly someone to model yourself after, he's pretty horrible, but the book is an entertaining and thought provoking read.