“‘Perfect’ Summer” 6×6, oil on canvas Buy Now

Today my son walked into the familiar halls of his school, this time as a bonafide first grader. Summer and I have a complicated relationship. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I  simultaneously mourn and celebrate its exit.

We had a good one– vacationed on St. George Island where the fish practically swam into our nets, and I got to drive a jetski at top speed through  a pod of pelicans, flying across the ocean as though I were one of them. (If my life were a movie, this would definitely be one of the more compelling scenes.) We rode bikes and watched movies, rented a waterslide for the backyard,  ate popsicles on the swing, and turned the living room into a complicated system of connected forts.

Today’s painting is based on a photo I took on our St. George Island trip. My son is the yellow dot on the left side. I love how the seagull (who may or may not have been thinking there would be a second round of cheetos in her future) photobombed this image. It’s a bird painting, but not a bird painting. Do you see how I’m trying new things in these 31 days?

I just reread the section in Chapter 3 of Art and Fear called “Perfection” and my God, is it good. Since I have highlighted nearly the whole thing, it is hard to pick a line or two to quote here.  The authors do tell this one story that I think illustrates my entire raison d’être for these 31 day challenges:

A pottery teacher breaks his class into two sections. The first he tells will be graded on the sheer quantity of their work, the second, the quality of just one pot. At the end of the course, the works of the highest quality were all produced by…drumroll… the first group. The authors explain, “It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work– and learning from their mistakes– the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

That’s why these 31 challenges work. 31 paintings in a row have left me with more knowledge and insight than entire semesters of college courses.

Perfect really is enemy of the good. Today I was amazed and delighted how little blobs of paint could suggest people, actual people, on a beach. I have painted and overpainted and agonized over human forms for years. Something about the summer spirit of jumping right in got me going on this one.

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