Oil Painting Blog

Blog about oil paintings by Robert Dawson

Against efficiency as a motivating factor in the production of art

I’m painting in oils again. A traditional medium. Slow. Messy. Smelly. I love it!

I'm getting comfortable with it, relearning how to blend and, generally speaking, to use the medium, tools, and ground, themselves, to reveal a pleasing result.

But it takes work. And one of my current, preparatory goals is realism. Accuracy. Not photorealism, because I like brushstrokes (and why not take a photo?). But to make what I paint look like what I see. I'm pretty good at it without assistance.

But what if I do use assistance? What if, for example, I paint on top of a photograph or a tracing from one? There don't have to be any rules in art, so I wouldn't be cheating. I'm my own authority (aside from nature). And the process would be faster. I'm already using a grid to ensure basic proportionality in a portrait I'm painting now. So, why not go the limit and automate and, it would seem, improve the process as much as possible?

But it feels wrong! It's boring. Boring is wrong. I might as well work in a paint-by-number factory.

It isn't art. Okay, it could be a Warholian commentary on consumerism (even though we're into prosumerism). Art can be anything. But punish myself in the repetitive, robotic (no offense, future overlords) process? Shoot me.