Words of wisdom from our masters…

Everything Matters

Sherrie McGraw

This has been a mantra of David’s since I was a student. He always talked about how it was nearly impossible to make careless brushstrokes throughout a painting and then suddenly change and make a meaningful piece of paint. I always believed him, but doing it was another matter—there is so much canvas to cover. How could I possibly keep my focus throughout the painting to the degree that every brushstroke is meaningful? How could I make everything matter? This was always the challenge.David’s work exemplifies this philosophy down to every square inch of the canvas. You might think this would have to take an inordinate amount of time, but it doesn’t. In every demonstration he has painted, in every finished work he has done, this appreciation for the power of a beautiful paint stroke has been the most important thing.

I remember watching him start a small painting of a clump of trees in Arroyo Hondo. This grouping had caught his eye, and he started a small sketch. For some reason he was interrupted and it was never finished. But what remains is the essence of David, the essence of his genius. He was doing something, describing something with every pass of the brush. These calligraphic strokes say something meaningful about the subject and are what creates the “finish” in a painting. Every…thing…matters. He lives what he teaches.

In examining the trouble I have had in painting throughout my development, eventually every problem has come back to brushstrokes. Bad color came with making a hastily applied paint. Bad value came with an ill-understood decision about relationships, moving too quickly to appreciate what was happening on the canvas, and a domino effect eventually would take the whole painting down. And all of these mistakes were rooted in how I made brushstrokes. The care or lack of care that I used.

Perhaps David’s genius was nurtured by having grown up in a hospital. Time was never an issue. He was never in a rush. He had only the moment. And this is the beauty he brings to his work. Every part of a painting matters. Every brushstroke, every color, every shape, every edge…the fast, bravura brushstrokes and the slow subtle brushstrokes—every one of them matters.

Slowing down and simply noticing what is happening on the canvas is the key to becoming a better artist. Everything DOES matter.

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