30 times Same, Same

View Karl Isakson’s 1918 painting “Nature morte” as part of Wikimedia Commons.

I posted the process I used to paint my first oil painting in 30 years yesterday. “East Point Cliffs” is a rugged painting and rough around the edges, however, it is done. I need to begin again as I trust that not all learning is accomplished on one canvas. Yet, I couldn’t even consider painting the exact same image again, and then again. It is just not in my nature. It is an esteemed practice though. I have on my bookshelf from many years ago Complete Course in Oil Painting: Combined Edition – Four Volumes in One (1960) by Olle Nordmark. On page 123 he states the following:

“Beginners are inclined to think that experienced painters get their effects easily, without travail. This is not so. Great masters are great because they are willing to take infinite pains and do the work over again an indefinite number of times at any stage of the painting. Willingness to erase, or to start all over again on a clean painting surface is essential to good painting, whether you are a beginner or an artist of established reputation.”

Nordmark provides an example of Swedish painter Karl Isakson (1878-1922) known for his exact precision of tone. Isakson often discarded as many as 30 paintings of one subject before he was willing to show anyone his canvas. Thirty times. Thirty times painting the same subject again and again until the artist felt he had mastered his subject. As someone who loves colour, the results take my breath away. The pieces are timeless.

View Karl Isakson’s  1919 Udsigt över Svaneke at ArtNet.

I have provided two examples. To see some of Isakson’s other work explore this Google image search here. I even noticed more than one painting that has survive of the same subject.

So… I am publicly making a commitment to paint 30 paintings by the end of 2010 on the theme of Sea, Land and Time. I will, as much as my vulnerability will allow, let you look over my shoulder as I do so.

Sprout Question: Whose creative work before 1940 do you admire and what have you learned from them?

Note: If you, as some of you I know do, have a practice of creating from the same subject many times please feel free to provide a link to your work and tell us what you have learned in the process.

Best of the weekend to you:) Terrill

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

24 thoughts on “30 times Same, Same

  1. Terrill – I really enjoyed this blog post – it’s thick – something to sink one’s teeth into. The sprout question today should really be called …

    … JUICY Sprout Question: Whose creative work before 1940 do you admire and what have you learned from them?

    I enjoy and respect the work of Frank Lloyd Wright – the father of organic architecture. He is well known for saying, “The reality of a building is the space within. And what you put into that space will affect how you live in it and what you become. Don’t clutter the place with stuff that does not ennoble it.”

    His point is that it’s the details that express the whole. I look at this as being equally true of our personal inner landscape. I often tell my clients, WE determine our terrain—it’s a matter of personal choice.

    And you know that a client’s not going to leave HolEssence without hearing, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

    ~ Laurie Buchanan

    • I am glad you like the question Laurie… and I like what your clients are hearing… I choose:) Do you have a blog post or a page on your website of you working? I have seen a few in the past on Gaia but not sure if there is new link. I always find these images fascinating.

  2. Like you, I have difficulty returning to the exact same subject in my paintings, but each time I paint I learn. Whether it is how to make the foliage appear more realistic without always becoming a replica, to make the light dance along the water, or an animals eyes light up and it is these experiences that carry over into new paintings.
    P.S. I really liked the waves and the tide pool in the foreground in East Point Cliffs. Water in motion and then quiet while in the protection of the rocks.

    • Thank you Sue for your feedback on the oil painting and sharing how you carry your learning over from one painting to another… you would think we might be related or something?

      I am teasing. We are related. Sue Wiebe is my sister and I provided a bonus feature of two pieces of her work awhile back when I was just starting the most recent oil painting.

  3. What lovely work. I am sorry–can’t come up with an immediate name of pre-1940’s work.


    The work of Jane Austen just leaped into the caverns of the brain. I do admire her writing.

    I am so excited that your blog is so successful, Terrill.

    • Oh yes…. see the question just had to be asked Kathy and the answer took care of itself.

      Creative Potager’s success is partly due to more established bloggers like yourself. I feel like about half dozen of you just reach out and took my hand to lightly lift me up to the next step. I am always thrilled when you find a moment to drop by and join a sprout conversation.

      The other part of Creative Potager’s success is the thought inspiring sprout responses from readers. I get to grow and learn everyday along with everyone who drops by.

      Here is a virtual toast to community!!!!!

  4. YES, your Sprout Questions are wonderful. I think that is a big call. We want to come to your blog to think deeper, to ponder more.

    So often lately, when I’m writing a blog, I remember to ask a question. Because of YOU.

    Virtual toast! And thank you.

    • I won, I won – 36″ of hard packed ice.… well my years up in north central B.C. helped in my guessing:) What fun Kathy and I’m sorry to hear you are a little blue but it seems understandable with the closing of our Gaia community and coming home again after being with your family on vacation. warm hugs Terrill

    • Kathy that link was so unfair. I just drool when I see brushes! My eyes light up and my fingers itch. I used to spend most of my hard earned cash on brushes and canvases when I was a teenagers. I know I should have been buying nail polish blue eyeshadow (it was the 70’s) but nope, other than a saddle for my horse – art supplies. I was always running out of canvases though.

      There is a story my mother likes to tell about why she has no kitchen cupboard doors. To hear her tell it the reason is all my fault. One day I was desperate for a surface to paint on. The night before I had seen the moon shining through the fog from where I was taking a late night dip in the river……So started to dig around the chunks of plywood carefully stored against the inside of my brother’s bedroom wall (they were kept there to stay dry and clean). There was one piece that seemed about the right size. It was nicely finished on one side and 1/2 inch thick. I decided it would do. Surely no one would miss it – it really wasn’t big enough to do anything with (I was thinking partition walls). I found some white primer and got it set.

      Many hours later I had the painting about as far as I could take it and was starting to clean up. About then the truck arrived with my parents who had been to town to get groceries and propane. I had no space to paint really and had been using the kitchen counter because no one was home. So when mom came through the door and frowned at me I thought she was upset that I was in the way and she had a weeks worth of groceries to bring in. But no that wasn’t it. She very calmly said “the painting looks great but that is the kitchen cupboard doors.” To this day there are no doors on the kitchen cupboards.

  5. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
    when i went to the national gallery and saw his huge drawings of women done in oil paint on cardboard i learned painting and drawing could be the same thing.

    • Jerry, thank you for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. I went looking for an image to share and found Rousse, La Toilette in Wikimedia Commons (nice because high resolution and get look more closely).

      To be able to see original art work is a huge gift and inspiration. We take photographs but they really do not (at least) very well capture the energy or feel of a piece. A few years I went to our Canadian national gallery in Ottawa. There were groups of school children going through looking rather bored. I just couldn’t believe they didn’t realize how fortunate they were. I was fourteen when I saw Emily Carr’s work that was being hauled around the province with a big rig in a trailer. That was when I started oil painting. I would have loved to go back and see her work week after week. This is one of the disadvantages of rural living – we must go to the paintings:)

  6. Terrill – I rec’d a notification of your Gaia message via email. When I clicked on “reply” it took me to the sign-in page and then wouldn’t let me. I know that Sandi is still able to get in because I receive notices of her postings.

    I’m taking it as the Universe’s way of saying it’s time to stop riding two horses at one time. And that’s fine too. It goes hand-in-hand with my “less is more” theory.

    • Yes Laurie, that is the case sometimes. I have gone back to take little with me but that is because most of my work is carefully filed on my hard drive and then backed up as I go. We will create new stories together:)

  7. Terrill – Like you, I’m grateful that I backed up everything in a Word document as I went; including my feature last July. I find myself in a place of peace and calm, rather than scramble-mode.

  8. Terrill:

    Over the past two years I’ve managed to see some wonderful art exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, including one on J.M.M. Turner, which I reviewed for WitD here:

    and another recently on Van Gogh’s nightime paintings including the masterpiece “The Starry Night.”

    As to your sprout question, I will not stray from art, as that’s really the topic that’s being examined and appreciated here. My favorites are Munch, Van Gogh and Rembrandt, although going all the way back I adore Da Vinci and Michaelangelo. But really, who doesn’t? Ha! That’s just like saying I love Shakespeare, Hugo, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Ha!

    Terrill, I absolutely LOVE Isakson’s paintings and agree with your reasons for their beauty.

    • Sam thank you so much for the link… from the hinterlands, your blog post reads as if it was yesterday instead of September 2008. Or maybe it is the same no matter where we live.

      My imagination is captured by your telling of the event and tomorrow I shall do a bit of poking around about J.M.M. Turner. A few of the others you mention… I have heard about – Munch, Van Gogh… I’m teasing. I think it is interesting how some work in its greatness becomes the standard that is known in the everyday but there is much that escapes our discovery unless we search into the mysterious corners of civilization.

      Glad you made Sam it by for a Sunday evening visit.

  9. Pingback: Monday Morning Diary (March 22) « Wonders in the Dark

  10. It is now close to the end of 2010. I have not even got close to my 30 paintings but I do have more than 30 pieces of completed art with 11 of them being oil paintings and more than 30 canvas photography prints and a solo exhibition of my new work completed. It has been a good year. I shall set the same goal for 2011 and see how it goes.

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