On Creative Procrastination, Venice Lagoon and Painting Process


Small oil sketch of the Venice Lagoon

While Organizing my studio storage (I am still working on creating an inventory system, one day I’ll get here, wish me luck!), I came across this little oil study for a painting my mom asked me to do some years ago. She traveled to Italy for the first time and fell in love with Venice. She sent me some of her photos from the trip and wanted me to make her a painting of the famous view of the Venice Lagoon resplendent with the shiny lacquered gondolas, turquoise water and San Marcos campanile in the background.

So, wanting to make sure I make a good solid picture of my Mom’s new favorite magical place, I dutifully set up a methodical approach to create a large oil painting. I studied her photos, mixed colors, experimented with the composition and made a quick study in oils to get a feel for all of it. Then, following the proper tried and true protocols of classical painting, I was going to make the real thing.

But it's a funny thing about me and preparatory studies: I can never make a painting if I make a study first. Seems like such a logical thing: do a small sketch, figure out the composition and the color palette and then transfer these ideas and discoveries to make a large solid painting based on all this information.

Sounds smart, but I guess I like to work harder than smarter.

The act of painting has always been about a process of discovery for me. Paintings I end up making are almost byproducts, evidence, artifacts that document the research, all the exploration and all the mistakes. It's an open-ended process. And if I answer all the questions in the sketch, then there is simply no reason to make a "real" painting.

I usually work very fast and deliver before the deadlines, but just could not bring myself to give my mom the large painting version because it lacked the spontaneity and aliveness that I am after. So, instead of feeling guilty for failing to produce a large painting of her beloved Venice Lagoon for my mom for years now, I will be shipping her this small oil on paper study. The gesture is vivid, the fun I had making it is evident.

I hope mom likes it