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Roger Burnett Art Blog

The devil is in the detail

by rogerburnett , May 3, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: painting

If push comes to shove, I can paint every leaf on a tree. The job would be tedious for me and boring for you. Far better, that I throw down a thunderous wash of Prussian Green and let your mind do the rest. In other words, it is better to suggest, rather than to define detail.

For the bold watercolourist, the best suggestive passages are often the happy accidents that are beyond the artist's control. Except, you might qualify that statement by saying: the better the artist, the more often the accidents happen in his or her favour.

By suggesting rather than defining detail, we allow the public to enter into the creative process and interpret a picture as they may. As with poetry, they are free to read their own meaning between the lines.

I have illustrated this entry with a suggestive detail from one of my sketches of the female nude. If I have been more specific, my painting might have had to be hidden from view for a hundred years - as was the fate of Gustave Courbet's realist masterpiece* of the same subject.

*The Origin of the World



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