What More Can I Do?


The more I paint, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

Every painting is a learning experience, and–like every other painter out there, I’m sure–I want to get better every time.

Recently, I realized that I am a “conceptual” painter. That means that I know what I want the painting to look like when I’m done. I just thought every painter was the same in that regard; not so.

I continue to get emails from artists who say “do this” and “do that,” but I only know one way to paint. I watch other painters to see how they work, and am often blown away at how they structure a painting, how they use color, all those things, and it’s exciting to me to learn new things.

My latest commission included a portrait, and I used what’s called the Zorn palette.

Anders Zorn was a Swedish painter in the late 1800s. He painted many gorgeous paintings using just four colors: white, black, yellow ochre, and crimson red. Actually black is not a color, so it’s really three colors and black.

The flesh tones I was able to get using just those four tubes of paint are amazing. So, a new method for me, but still … I only know one way to paint.

I sometimes wish I could be “looser” and more free with my brushes, but when I’m into it, I go into this zone where I keep painting until I get what I want. Suddenly, I’m done, and I look at the painting and think, “how did that happen?” Still, even when I’m “done,” I always know I can do better. So I start the next one, thinking about how I can be better, and what I want it to look like when it’s finished, because I’m a conceptual painter.