Sweating the Details

“I should never have made my success in life if I had been shy of taking pains, or if I had not bestowed upon the least thing I have ever undertaken exactly the same attention and care that I have bestowed upon the greatest.”

Charles Dickens

Detail of an unfinished work now nearing completion…hopefully.

I recently finished listening to an audio recording of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. Dickens is a favored studio companion, his intricate, well woven tales can keep me engaged for days on end. He was a master storyteller and when Curiosity Shop came to its conclusion, I marveled at the care and dedication to detail he lavished upon even the most seemingly insignificant innkeeper, scoundrel or parlormaid. It is a great treat to become so well acquainted  with all of his characters, the experience is so rich and gratifying.

Such attention to seemingly insignificant details is my delight at the easel as well. I am aware that a broader brush or  a simpler stroke might just as effectively convey a desired message, but it wouldn’t be fully my own, or frankly of any interest to me. I take great pleasure in works that are convoluted, those possessing complicated compositions with seemingly infinite opportunity to discover detail upon detail.  I recall the northern Gothic painters, where the doorknob of some distant castle sparkles as brightly and as prettily as some fair maiden’s jeweled bodice; where every tree is embroidered with countless , meticulously rendered leaves. Many find such works frankly too rich in detail, too time consuming to comprehend, not at all suited to our contemporary world’s blunt (brutal?) aesthetic and ever-increasingly limited attention span.

I however stay the course, trying as best as I can to stay personally true,  and  as Dickens stated, taking the pains necessary to develop the work fully to my satisfaction.  The following images are of works in progress, one a rather large oil painting, hopefully nearing completion, the second a work on paper. Both seem to be expanding in scope as each studio comes to a close. But I am increasingly confident that they will let me know when they are finished…fingers crossed, soon.

Detail of WIP
Detail of WIP, colored pencil, white charcoal, on toned paper.
Detail of WIP, one panel left…hopefully.
Working out details for an upcoming “Stuffed Painting”.
Detail of WIP; oil on canvas.

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s