Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Salvador's Savoir-faire

Window Shade 7x5 plein air oil study on canvas panel. 

Salvador Dalí said, "Have no fear of perfection-you'll never reach it".  
When you read it, or even say it out loud it's just so simple, there is nothing to fear. However, we've all been told to not be afraid of the boogeyman because he doesn't exist, yet we still hear those bumps in the night and the strange things that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. If that's not the boogeyman, what is it? 
Even though Dalí makes a very valid point I have to ask, if we're not trying to achieve perfection what is our goal? Perhaps it's the word perfection that we just need not be afraid of because it seems like everyone's definition of perfect is different. When I read Dalí's quote that's what I take from it. This "perfection" we seek may not be perfect for everyone so there is no way to reach it. 
Going back to the question, what is the goal? If we're not looking to paint something perfect what should we be aiming for? This one's on you. Me, I personally decided that my goal, what I'm aiming for when I begin a painting is to be happy with the end result. It may not be perfect, may not be what I had envisioned, but am I happy with the end result?  If I'm unhappy I must make sure I achieved my second goal, did I learn something from this venture? If I'm not happy and I learned nothing, then I failed. 


  1. Quoting Dali is oddly appropriate to your picture. Flanked by those black borders it has that surrealist feel. Maybe more DiChirico(?) yet a droopy watch would fit right in (although the mostly deserted street and sideways light we had gave everything that kind of feel).
    Interesting points on perfectionism. I wonder if we're hard wired to aspire to it - racial memory of a once perfect state we lost or something. But I agree, there can be at least satisfaction if it seems like we're vectoring toward an ideal.

    1. Yea, that spot definitely had a Twilight Zone feel to it. I guess that would have made us the "monsters on Maple street"? I still can't get over how the kids were just riding their skateboards down Main St.
      I agree with the de Chirico and maybe a droopy pair of scissors since there were so many hair places on that street.
      As far as being hard wired to aspire to perfection it's still silly because one person's idea of perfection is different from another's. You could say running a mile in 7 minutes is considered perfect but then someone comes along and consistently runs it in 6 so the definition of perfect is no longer true in that case.
      Here's another thought, should we really want our work to be perfect? If you made one perfect painting, how would you top that? How could you ever do better than perfect?

    2. You've got a point - anything quantitative, like a 6 minute mile, is easy. A 5 minute mile is better, and then a 4 minute mile and so on. It's the qualitative kinds of perfection that make the issue complicated, as you noted. Do you think you'll ever paint a perfect picture? I've never heard of an artist who thought they did. We always find them short of some internal idea. That Sargent in Chicago is perfect by my reckoning but doubtless he thought it ok but not phenomenal. Where does that come from and why do we all have it? There's a very elusive standard out in the ether somewhere that gives us the notion of perfection and imperfection. It has to come from outside us. Otherwise we would think anything we did was just fine. Maybe its put there to keep us going so we feel purposeful instead of pointless? I don't know...It's a real can of worms.

  2. Good eye on the window composition.