#O88: That Precarious Gait

Mythical Landscape (Oil on Canvas, 12 x 16″). The source photo for this painting is shown below – you will see the painting does not much look like it.

I painted this over a failed attempt at an oil version of a pastel painting I posted earlier. I painted a coat of Raw Sienna over the failed painting – mercifully I did not post it – and some time later I used the canvas to try my hand at this landscape once again.

I started by putting down an under-painting in Transparent Oxide Red over the Raw Sienna – the ghost of the failed earlier painting peered through and steered me toward something very different from the source photo, which is shown below. My painting came out with a warm, old world feeling that I quite like.


At times the curtain lifts on all the self-doubt and inexperience – and I begin to glimpse that painting is a learn-able skill. The road to mastery lies ahead – to walk it I need to paint perhaps another 1000 paintings. I am now at number 88.

Time is needed, that’s for sure, but it can be done, and a far greater enemy for me specifically is the idea that – being self-taught – there is some required limit in experience, talent or skill that I will not be able to transcend.

I recently added a quote by Stuart Shills onto my Creativity Inspirations page. This came originally from an interview with Shills on Painting Perceptions, in which he said:

I tell my young students here that the only difference between us is that I have made more paintings but please don’t think that I really have any idea what I’m doing. Just like them, I’m also on the side of the mountain, hooked up to ropes, hoping the landslide doesn’t come or if it does, to ride it out. Over the last 20 years, the force and challenges of the landscape itself, being in it and having to deal with its complexity – (and I don’t mean landscape as a calendar cliché, I’m thinking more as a formal abstraction and along the lines of massive sensory impact) – has been the greatest influence, my most significant teacher.

But for me, the greatest inspiration, the encouragement to continue on this way even when the light falters, comes from Emily Dickinson. In one of her poems – partly quoted below – she masterfully describes the tentative nature of the thing called “Experience”. This is the way one learns:

I stepped from Plank to Plank 
A slow and cautious way 
The Stars about my Head I felt 
About my Feet the Sea. 

I knew not but the next 
Would be my final inch— 
This gave me that precarious Gait 
Some call Experience.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Hallo Ma! So bly ma geniet my blog!

3 thoughts on “#O88: That Precarious Gait

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