I’ve just read this blog post with some amusement: http://painting.about.com/od/inspiration/tp/tedious-art-tasks.htm?nl=1
It’s a list of the five most tedious tasks in art. I don’t agree. Let’s take them one by one:
- Cleaning paint brushes. Actually I love to clean my brushes, especially in the middle of making an alla prima painting. I also love to have plenty of clean brushes to hand, when it is not the right time to clean them, but I find the act of cleaning the brushes to be contemplative, with the sound of running water and a single, simple task that requires little intellectual engagement, so that my imagination is free to wander and plan the next phase of my painting or the next painting. Brush cleaning, as a ritual, is an essential part of my art.
- Cleaning a paint palette. This is the reason I like disposable, tear off palettes and stay wet palettes. Cleaning involves throwing the paper in the bin. One of the best and most fun things is using the colours from a previous painting to contaminate your new colours (in an admittedly controlled way) to create serendipitous effects and subtleties. For that, a dirty palette is just the ticket.
- Keeping paint tubes clean. Again, I like ’em dirty. They look like proper artist’s tools when there is some evidence of use. Also, when all my tubes stand up in my paint box (they do, because I have a lot of tubes), the colour on the top of the tube or even on the lid helps me find the colour quickly. The printed wrapper on the tube is usually not what I see first. As for the paint sticking the cap to the tube, that happens only on colours I use infrequently and the solution is just to use a towel over the cap to protect your hands and a bit of elbow grease to force it open. One of my friends carries a pair of pliers. In fact, if you use a colour so infrequently that the cap glues shut, it might be a sign to throw it away, as you never use it 🙂
- Varnishing your paintings. I confess I don’t do this often enough, but it’s really no big deal. Use big brushes and the task is completed in minutes. I guess if you stack up twenty paintings and want to varnish them all at once, that’s a bit of a chore, but like many things, do a little, often and things are ok. As the author of the post says, you can get anybody to do the varnishing.
- Explaining your art. I never do. It just is what it is. It doesn’t matter to me if the questioner knows how I did it or what it’s about or if it’s finished. I just put the question back to them. Then, if they guess incorrectly, I smile and either give them a clue or simply look enigmatic. People expect that of artists.
So I guess from my point of view, there are no really tedious tasks in art, except perhaps cataloguing, framing and photographing the works.
But that’s another story…