Friday, June 30, 2006

The nature of serial process

I published my blog post about Maggie and went off to read my e-mail and found and opened my latest Robert Genn letter. My mouth dropped when I realised he's done it again and written about something I've just been discussing!

Maggie and I have talked quite a bit in the past and during her interview about how she settles on a theme and then develops it. It works for her because she becomes more confident in what's she's doing and feels she can then take risks, push a few 'boundaries, and try things which are a bit more unusual - it's a combination of steady application with a bit of excitement thrown in. It works for her customers who collect her work because they can build a set of paintings which have a continuity about them.

So what does Robert Genn write about in his twice-weekly letter to artists? Only "the nature of the serial process"! I'm going to quote a brief extract from the letter - but seriously urge you to go and read it in its entirety when it's published on the Painter's Keys website shortly (e-nmail subscribers always get it first).

Robert talks about
"The steady worker who applies his craft daily is more likely to make creative gains than an intermittent one. Even when tired, or even because of it, the rolling creator can generally squeeze further."
In addition - he highlights the stages in the creative process
  • Initial attraction and recognition of potential.
  • Commitment to virgin understanding and first rendition.
  • Secondary attraction to nuance and sleeper elements.
  • Further "aha" recognition that the thing has legs.
  • Re-dedication to specific exploration and variation.
  • Development of personal touches and sensitivities.
  • Progression through excited highs to creative climax.
Drawings and sketches work in the same way. I can see the progress made every time somebody selects a theme and develops it - with a good example being the monthly sketchbook themes of Laura's Laurelines blog (watch out for the mid-year assessment of the 2006 art plan review due to be posted today!). I know I go to my weekly drawing class for the discipline of drawing a live model. However I now also push my weekly study to include composition and the 'making of a picture' - even if it doesn't always work out - like last night! But when it works, I know it, get quietly excited about it and the drawing just flows out of my fingers.

I can highly recommend Robert's newsletter, it always gives me something stimulating to think about each time it lands in my in-box. The "clickback" (containing the letter and readers' response to it is also very well worth reading - and features readers' work!) This is the current clickback.

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Alison said...

Thank you for this post. I hadn't heard of R Glenn - I will now try his letters.

Laureline said...

Katherine, you have created an absolutely indispensable blog for artists. I know I'm going to find out something wonderful---or see a beautiful piece of art (yours)--- every time I come here. I don't know how we all managed before you arrived on the scene. I'm sure Making a Mark is going to grow exponentially in readership over the next months! Thank you for providing so much to all of us---and thank you, once again, personally, for your generosity of spirit.

Cin said...

a terrific post, thank you, and Laura is so right!

Jan Blencowe said...

I just finished reading Elizabeth Mowry's book Landscape Meditations in which she discusses the theme of working in a series at great length. She begins with a selection of masters who worked in series..Corot,Martin Johnson Heade, George Innes and several more. Then she addresses a number of topics related to series work. General and specific themes, exploration of place, condensing or expanding from a focal point, visual narration and on and on. Fascinating! The book is filled to overflowing with examples of her beautiful pastel work, a few of her oil paintings and even a watercolor study here and there. This is not a "how to" book but an artist to artist book about "ideas and concepts"...I highly recommend it!

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