Saturday, April 18, 2020


persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

I like this definition and it leads to a personal story.
When I first starting painting and had maybe 20 paintings under my belt, I went to a place with some artists to do a bit of plein aire painting. A spot by a river was chosen.
I was nicely set up with all my tools and dug in to capture the flow of the river.

Part way through my effort, an artist whose work I respected walked up, took a quick look at my painting and said, "Well, THAT doesn't look like water." With that, he walked away.

I was shocked by his callousness. I could have packed up my brushes and gone home deflated. I could have continued to struggle through the piece. Maybe my stubbornness kicked in but the first thought that came to me was, "Oh yeah, I'll show you I can paint water!" My next step has served me well. I put down my brushes and really looked at the water. I started to see how the water changed color at the break over submerged rocks, how the white spray was not really white, how the rocks appeared underneath the flowing water, and how the trees along the bank were reflected in the water differently depending on how fast the water was moving.
My next painting of water was not brilliant. Probably a subset of mediocre. But, I had a goal and didn't shy from the chance to include water in my paintings. I kept working with different depictions of water (quiet ponds, roiling streams, ocean-breaking waves) in different light (sunrise, sunset, midday, cool and warm) and with different reflections.
Water is now one of my favorite things to paint. 

Working on the birds

Razor's Edge
13" X 20"
Original Oil
Almost done. When the painting is fully dry, I plan to glaze some metallic gold oil paint over some of the yellow in the birds' wakes.

While I cannot say I appreciate the approach from that artist many years ago, I do hear myself commenting during the middle of some of my paintings, "Well, that doesn't look like _______." It is then time to take a step back and work through how I can achieve the desired finished piece.

Perseverance. Often difficult, often necessary.


Peter Brown said...

It appears as though you have little trouble producing successful painting after successful painting, Linda!

However, having dabbled myself for many years, I know through bitter personal experience that your success has most likely been achieved after many false starts and setbacks, which makes your discipline and persistence all the more admirable in my eyes.

Linda Besse said...

Thanks Peter for your kind comments.
You are correct that my path has not been straight nor easy. While I don't believe to achieve success an artist needs to live a tortured life in an attic, sometimes a road with no obstacles can lead to complacent art or a body of work which shows no growth.
I guess I would rather have a few curves on my road.