The Study

By W. R. Jones

    A study for the general painting population is a trial of ideas or gathering of information in preparation for a generally larger, more complete, and more finished final painting.  Painters such as Bouguereau and Norman Rockwell produced studies that are beautiful works of art.  But for them they were stepping stones to the real work.  The study might be of a composition or a drapery layout or body parts such as heads, hands, etc.

    If I had any sense whatsoever, and apparently I don’t, I would do studies.  Instead I invariably opt to start right in on my latest great idea.  Then I paint myself in to a compositional corner.  I’m always confident I can come up with a brilliant solution and paint my way out.  I can’t figure where this confidence comes from given my near 100% failure rate.

    Lisa’s last post was a study, not a completed painting as was asked in a comment.  She does wonderful small studies of her still lifes.  She swore on her mother’s grave she would give me one.  Never happened; I found out later she wasn’t standing on her mother’s grave.  It was the compost pile for her tomato crop.

    I use the word “study” as a euphemism for a bad painting.  Thus I have done a LOT of studies.  “What are you painting there, Bill?”  “Oh, I’m doing a study of a cow in a field.”  “Really?  It looks like a rock.”  “That’s why it is called a study, you twit.”   “Now what are you painting?”  “I’m doing a study of a rabbit skull in the desert.  Also, I’m including an orange poppy.  It is a major study.”  “Wow, you really work hard.  Funny how your rabbit looks like a rock.  And, you say orange?  Did you mean red?”

    I’ve done so many pieces that needed to be buried that my wife doesn’t believe I paint at all.  She doesn’t trust me when I say I’m going painting.  So now I’ve got to bring a “study” home with me whenever I say I’m going to paint.  I’ve been doing a lot of garage sales looking for old paintings to take home to cover my tracks as it were.  When I find one I brush it with a thin layer of Mazola oil to make it look wet.  Hey, I’m still one step ahead of that woman.

    I actually was painting for this back study.  Not this particular piece but I did have this view.  Somewhere in the first 5 minutes of the pose my painting went far awry.  Christ! Not again.  What am I going to do, I’ve been away from home for 2 days, I’ve got to bring back a painting.  I can’t reuse that story that I was robbed again.  I think 3 times is the limit on that if I want to maintain credibility.

    The woman painting next to me did this work, bless her heart.  I slipped outside during the final break and set off her car alarm.  When she responded, I swapped paintings with her then packed her stuff.  She came back puzzled about her car.  I told her I put her stuff away since the session was almost over.  She thanked me and left.  I expect when she got home she was even more puzzled about her black male back study looking like blond white female breasts (ok, ok, rocks).  This may be the reasoning behind the mantra paint what you see not what you know.

    My chances of getting caught; slim and none.  I’ve been watching CSI.  When I snatched the painting I grabbed it putting my thumb in the wet paint.   Thus MY thumbprint is on it.  I removed any hair from the paint and put one of my three remaining strands in its place.  I licked it to may sure it was my saliva on the canvass.  She was a spitter so that had me worried.  Mostly she hit the big trash can, but that fellow standing in front of her had a fair amount hit him in the back.  I wonder how he will explain those tobacco stains.   Will she see this painting?  You calculate the probability – world population 6.6 billion divided into the number of readers (3).  I think I’m safe.

   I’m feeling a little ill now.  I wish I hadn’t licked quite so much of those cadmimums.

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8 Responses to The Study

  1. 100swallows says:

    A nice study, Bill. I bet the model was a little surprised at the shadow he cast. Or was that yours? Do you wear a Ku Klux Klan hood while painting?

  2. wrjones says:

    The shadow was from
    the rug not the model. Hey. I don’t make these setups.

    I would never wear
    KKK robes. Hatred is not my thing. I could, however, see myself in those orange robes asking for charity at the airport. I’ve always liked that color. It reminds me of autumn and the associated Halloween candy.

  3. 100swallows says:

    Oops, Bill, I didn’t mean to imply… I should have asked if you wore a dunce cap. (Hey, I get straight A’s, swallows.)

  4. wrjones says:

    No problem swallows. I like the fact you give thought to a painting. Still, if you are pressed for time, I don’t mind you skipping the thinking and just saying, “Oh, WOW, another fabulous piece.”

  5. Anna Surface says:

    A nice study… the curves and tones are really nice. Studies, for me, are learning curves… :) and parts of the whole… That is what a ‘study’ is all about. Now, put your left foot out and turn it all about. I like your paintings, Bill. :)

  6. wrjones says:

    Thanks, Anna.

    I was lying in bed last night looking at my “Stone Wall” study. I might be able to finish it this weekend. If not, within a few weeks. I was thinking I should have the wall further back. Next time could you include a little more foreground? I hope you like the painting. Maybe you will let me use a few more of your photos. Of course, once you read what I have to write about the painting, you may never speak to me again.

  7. Rhonda says:

    Pressed for time, Bill, so I’ll just say, “Oh, WOW, another fabulous piece.”
    Seriously, I like this very much, and it looks much to good to be a study!

  8. wrjones says:

    Rhonda – thanks. Should you find a little more time you could expand on what a great painting it is.

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