Nietzsche ("Human, All Too Human"
Artists have a vested interest in our believing in
the flash of revelation, the so-called inspiration...
shining down from heavens as a ray of grace. In reality,
the imagination of the good artist or thinker produces
continuously good, mediocre or bad things, but his
judgment, trained and sharpened to a fine point, rejects,
selects, connects.... All great artists and thinkers
are great workers, indefatigable not only in inventing,
but also in rejecting, sifting, transforming, ordering.
Sargent, from the "Sargent
He spent three weeks, for instance, painting Lady
D' Abernon in a white dress.
When he was dissatisfied he never hesitated to destroy
what he had done. He spent three weeks, for
instance, painting Lady D' Abernon in a white dress.
One morning, after a few minutes of what was to be
the final setting, he suddenly set to work to scraped
out what he had painted. The present portrait in a
black dress, was done in three sittings.
For the portrait of Mrs. Wedgwood in 1896 she sat
for him twelve times, but after the twelfth sitting
he said the would both be the better for a rest. ...
Some weeks later ... a new canvas was produced, and
in six sittings he completed the picture ...
"Paint a hundred studies: keep any number of
clean canvases ready, of all shapes and sizes so that
you are never held back by the sudden need of one.
You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and
keep your curiosity fresh."
Michaelangelo on Drawing Skills:
My opinion is that he who knows how to draw well
and merely does a foot or a hand or a neck, can paint
everything created in the world; and yet there are
painters who paint everything there is in the world
so impatiently and so much without worth that it would
be better not to do it at all. One recognises the
knowledge of a great man in the fear with which he
does a thing the more he understands it; and, on the
contrary, the ignorance of others in the foolhardy
daring with which they fill pictures with what they
know nothing about. There may be an excellent master
who has never painted more than a single figure, and
without painting anything more deserves more renown
and honour than those who have painted a thousand
pictures: he knows better how to do what he has not
done than the others know what they do.
Adolph von Menzel from "Drawings of A. von Menzel"
"Here there is no other possible way but to
accept once for all everything as a genuine artistic
problem. You will then cease at once to consider anything
unworthy of your powers ; even the 'pretty-pretty
stuff' will wax interesting, instructive, and even
Ira Glass (US radio host "This American Life",
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I
wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work,
we get into it because we have good taste. But there
is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff,
it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it
has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing
that got you into the game, is still killer. And your
taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people
never get past this phase, they quit. Most people
I know who do interesting, creative work went through
years of this. We know our work doesn't have this
special thing that we want it to have. We all go through
this. And if you are just starting out or you are
still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and
the most important thing you can do is do a lot of
work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week
you will finish one story. It is only by going through
a volume of work that you will close that gap, and
your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I
took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone
I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal
to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through.