Imperfectionism

Last Friday Margaret wrote about the richness that comes from limitations  and the happy accidents that occur in printmaking: the beauty of imperfection.

I looked around my studio. I have lots of postcards and posters and other images pinned up and so many of them could be described as imperfect. I am drawn to those images; they have vitality.

This is the computer corner in my studio.

Eve is pinned to the left of  my computer. (We are both tempted by Apples). I love her huge arms and little head. She was drawn by John H. Coates in 1916.
When I draw people I go to great pains to get them to look accurate in some way. But accuracy is rarely what I love.
This image by anonymous is pinned to the side of a bookshelf.
When the artist got tired of painting the sky she or he just stopped. There is still plenty of sky.
This lubok (Russian folk print) tells the story of a cat and many mice. The limited palette, the crammed in text, the pattern, and the peculiar mice all add to the allure of this picture.
Above my painting table I have this image by Hiroshige torn from a magazine. Here the strangeness and beauty of the image are strengthened by the absolute perfection of the drawing.
Cantering in the opposite direction is this festive horse is by Yuri Vasnetsov.
And this startled horse was painted by Bill Traylor. The tiny ankles of this horse are elegant. Blue is just the right color.
Years ago I read Electricity by Victoria Glendinning. I am still haunted by the line that I remember as: ” The roses on the wallpaper were painted by someone who had never looked very closely at a rose.”
I want to look closely at roses (or turtles) and I want to draw as well as I can. I also want to have the joy of imperfection in my work.
Here is a horse I painted last winter.
And one from a few years ago that seemed on point for this post.
…Are you drawn to imperfection, perfection or both?
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9 responses to “Imperfectionism

  1. Yes, I agree imperfection is good. I’ve found that accidents often are what makes a painting better. Planning is fine, but it’s spontaneity that makes life exciting.

  2. I love this post! I too am drawn to imperfection. I think about it often. Imperfection is so human, so it feels to me more personal and honest somehow. Of course it is lovely to see stunningly accurate works of art as well, but I think a hint or two of imperfection can give a work the edge of beauty to really finish it off.

  3. Never look for perfection or imperfection, look for what makes your heart sing! Your post made made my heart sing! Laura’s friend

  4. Even your “imperfect” paintings look pretty perfect to me, Julie!

  5. Julie, you made me look around my studio with new eyes. I seem to like imperfectionism too. I am drawn to artwork that looks like the artist wasn’t worrying about trying to be realistic or accurate. Art that looks like the artist was enjoying themselves while they were making it. That’s one reason I like your work so much (and I have some of it hanging on the walls in my studio)–I know you love creating it!

  6. Your post reminded me again of how much I love the work of artists who are imperfect and yet (or because?) are essential creators of beautiful and provocative images. Rousseau comes to mind. Thank-you!

  7. I wish I could print this whole post as a poster for my wall. Margaret is so right too, about enjoying doing the art. It really shows!

  8. What an insightful post. I agree that imperfection is much more interesting than perfection. I remember visiting the Uffizi in Italy and being drawn to Da Vinci’s unfinished painting “The Adoration of the Magi.” The half-finished quality and the exposed underpainting was gorgeous and I spent way more time looking at that piece than the finished artwork.

  9. What a lovely topic. The imperfections here make the pieces so much more interesting. The imperfections also reveal the personality of the artist. My favorite is the unfinished sky. Why bother with the rest? We already knew where he was going.

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