Getting The Whole Picture

Recently, I have been attempting to paint a large canvas. By large I mean a metre square – or nearly square! My mind is filled with ideas and pictures – one became foremost, so I started to cover the canvas. Dark areas and rough shapes. Some more detailed drawing. I covered the whole canvas and achieved a composition. Then came the hard part.

A roughly finished painting can look quite good. The eye makes up for what might be missing and adds perspective. The abstract look is not mocked in modern art. However, I feel the need to press on and achieve my idea. This demands more “realism” (at least in this case. I become influenced by what I think others will think! It is a problem with me – I just cannot cope with statements like “What is it?” Or, “…is that meant to be X?”

I work hard at an area of the painting. It changes the whole look and makes the rest look “wrong” or unfinished. So, hours of graft and struggle to get the whole picture. Painting is not a recreation, a nice hobby, it is painful! Bob Dylan wrote:

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

But my painting is not beautiful – so why should I care, bother, even try? There’s the “thing”. Do I bother or try? Is it worth it?

Life can be like that. Certainly life as a Christian. Following Jesus Christ is like taking on a big canvas. We start enthusiastically but soon find the challenge too great. In an age of cartoon and artificial imagery; of abstracts and conceptual art, why bother? Use a computer generated likeness, just talk about things, just draw a two-dimensional impression. Whatever you do – don’t let it hurt you. No pain.

Athletes suggest “no pain, no gain!” And, anyway, how does an artist tell when a painting is finished?

Paul Cezanne – unfinished painting

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