One of the beautiful things about art is that if we pay attention, we can apply what we learn to almost any area of our life, and vice versa. Such is the case with the following advice that plein air artist Larry Cannon shares about failure, success, and the awe that is nature.
Advice in a Minute: Two Tips for Artists from Larry Cannon
1. You will learn far more from your failures than you will from your successes. You will always remember the mistakes, while sometimes you will have no idea how to repeat the successes. Look at any great artist in history. Only about 10 percent of their paintings rise to the exceptional level. You shouldn’t expect every painting to be frameable. You are probably not going to be in the art history books, so relax, learn, and follow your passion. An honest interpretation of what you see is far better than a copy of some other artist’s style. At any point in your progress, you are truly only at the beginning of your learning curve.
2. Learn to look, look to learn. Your painting will always look inadequate when placed in front of your subject. It will only sing when viewed away from direct comparison with Nature’s magnificence.
Cannon goes on to tell us more about his work, and how he has seen the truth of #1 first-hand when painting outdoors: “I painted ‘The Devil’s Cauldron’ (above) several years ago during the Carmel Art Festival,” he says. “The backstory is that I set up out at the tip of the Point Lobos Wilderness Reserve, south of Carmel, in a location that I thought would be sheltered from the wind. But the wind shifted, grew very strong, and whipped up the surf in the adjacent Devil’s Cauldron area to the point that I wasn’t sure I could finish the painting. In accord with one of the tips below, I did not show it at the Festival exhibition because I wasn’t sure it was any good. Later, I realized it was one of my best in terms of truly ‘capturing the moment.’ Subsequently it received several awards including one from the editor of Art of the West Magazine.”
Has one of your paintings in particular surprised you in the end? Tell us about in the comments section below, and use the hashtag #PleinAirToday on social media.