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Monday, December 18, 2017

Which is More Important in Making Art: Quality or Quantity?

This is an interesting question for a daily painter. By default I have to go with quantity. The more I paint the more I learn and the more I improve.  Over on Patreon we have been reading the book 'Art & Fear' by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

One of the passages we have been discussing is the idea of quality vs quantity. In the book the authors share a story about a pottery teacher who divided his class into two groups. One group had the entire class series to work on making one perfect pot. The other group was instructed to create as many pots as possible during the same time period. The result was that the quantity group produced better pots because they had more practice. The quality group spent more time studying and trying to figure out how to make the perfect pot and so they didn't have enough time to practice and lean from their mistakes.

What an eye opening idea!  I believe it is true that the more you practice the more you learn and improve. Quantity will ultimately lead to quality!

This has been the case for me. I began painting everyday shortly after I took up pastels in 2005. Practicing has made a huge difference for me. Have look at one of my very first pine tree paintings. This one was done plein air about 6 months after I started painting. I can look at it now and give it a good critique but at the time I thought it wasn't too bad!  I have learned much over the last 12 years. Now scroll up to the top of the page to see two pine tree paintings that I did this month. Quantity leads to quality. I  am looking forward to seeing what I will do after another few years of practice!

click here to see my very first blog posts:  http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/2005/07/


kate burn said...

this post is a good reminder - practice practice practice. And thanks for showing one of your earlier pieces. It's a good motivator and example that if we do the work we can improve. I really like those pine snowy pine trees pieces. It's snowing here today and these make me want to paint the snow.

Kristina said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. Your latest pine tree paintings are breathtaking!

robertsloan2art said...

Absolutely agree with you! Quantity creates quality, you can't help it. When beginners get discouraged I tell them to draw the same thing a dozen times and look at the 12th one compared to the first. Then do that subject a hundred times. By then it'll be gorgeous and people that don't know them will be throwing compliments and maybe money if they love the subject.

LOL your early plein air, it looks like palm trees at first glance. Kind of neat but with a tropical air to it and a feel of palm trees. You hadn't really gotten the values of pines yet. But it was cool and not bad for an early thing, your first feelings were good too. There was a lot of good to be seen in it. The current ones are stunners of course, I couldn't tell which of those I liked better. Maybe the one on the left, by a hair, something about the cluster of them slightly to the left appealed to me.

Pastels are a wonderful medium for it too, because it doesn't take that long to finish a painting. Pastels are all about instant gratification. Oils are about waiting for months for it to dry before doing the next stage and then, by that point, being a better painter and hating the dang thing. So not my thing. (Not to mention no place to store them to dry.)