Gude Ideas

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Painting: With age comes impatience, and better painting

Loose painting I made this weekend. (click to enlarge)

When I was younger —about 30 YEARS younger— I believed that to be a bona fide and respected painter I had to reproduce the subject of my painting perfectly, with ultimate realism, and I worked hard to achieve that. I was (and still am) a huge Renaissance fan and wanted to be a modern-day Leonard or Michaelangelo and equal their mastery of all things sfumato. A painting could take days, weeks, even a year or two. I say years because painting this way for an impatient A.D.D. person like me was tedious and boring. I would cling to tiny successes, like completing the perfect apple or cloud, often just a fraction of the overall effort that would be needed to complete such a painting with the teeny brushes that such detail demands.

Then, for a long time I decided that I hated painting. It was no fun. I liked the results, but not the journey to get there.

Then I started to age …

With age has come greater self-knowledge and acceptance of what I can and can not abide. With maturity I’ve stopped trying to emulate other people in my art. A few short years ago I decided to give painting another shot, to try to find my own voice, which meant embracing my impatience and letting the brush strokes fall where they may. My painting is looser, and somehow, more real, and I like it. A lot.

I’ve learned to impress myself, and though I’m a much tougher critic than a bunch of 500-year-old dead painters, I find the rewards of achieving personal satisfaction about the best motivator for personal growth there is.

"Brass ensemble." One of my earlier tedious, tiny brush paintings.

9 comments on “Painting: With age comes impatience, and better painting

  1. sebby
    March 5, 2012

    I think they are both excellent :) and love your posts!

    • karlgude
      March 5, 2012


  2. Elizabeth Izant
    March 5, 2012

    I think your experience with aging is universal. I have become less picky with age and have come to value the wabi sabi aspects of life. Leonardo lived long enough to change too; a comparison of his earlier and later works might be revealing. Some famous painter said something about learning to paint like a child. I can’t remember who said it but I think he was absolutely correct. Check out to see the works of a married couple whose paintings are extraordinary. I own one work by each of them. They are roughly our age (early 50s.) They have mastered stylized representational art. His work is owned by the Denver Art Museum.

    • karlgude
      March 6, 2012

      Hi Elizabeth. I’d love to see some of your work. Your friends’ paintings are wonderful. It’s interesting how different they are as artists, yet oddly similar. That defines a marriage, I guess!

  3. ericrynne
    March 5, 2012

    Both paintings are great! That’s wonderful!!

    • karlgude
      March 6, 2012


  4. yangfan4
    March 6, 2012

    I love painting since I was a still a kid. But for one reason or another, I did not proceed to pursue my interest as my career. Although I am in the field of advertising now, I am a strategic communication researcher instead of a art specialist. I know from my heart, I would be a better art director than a market researcher. Do I still have any chance to pursue my dream job anymore? I am 35 years old now and have a 3-year-old daughter.

    • karlgude
      March 6, 2012

      Hi Faye,
      Art careers (jobs) come in many shapes and sizes, most now requiring software knowledge but all still rooted in the foundational elements, like having a good eye for color, balance, composition, etc. There are computer graphics, layout and design, illustration, etc. Painting, generally speaking, is a tough career. I briefly considered the idea of putting my paintings in galleries and selling them because i could make tons more doing commercial illustration, and it was easier. Galleries keep 40-60% of your sale and the government keeps their share in taxes, so if you sell a painting for $500, at worst you could walk home with just a couple of hundred dollars. So make a living as a painter you have to be unique, appeal to a large demographic and paint super fast!

      If you want to have a career as a designer or illustrator, you’d need to go to a community college and start learning the ropes and begin building up a portfolio. While you’re doing this, you can take small jobs, like for a local business, and test out your skills and push your talents. It may take time, but at your age you have it! If you want to be a painter, I suggest you keep your current career, support your daughter, and just start painting! A wise gallery owner once told me that I thought too hard about my painting and over-thought them. He said, “It’s like every painting for you has to be the Great American Novel.” He said, “You need to loosen up. Just get some brown butcher-block paper, tape it to a wall in your basement and paint a still life as fast and loose as you can in two hours and then THROW IT AWAY!” You’ll learn to be a painter, Faye, if you really enjoy it. At first you may be frustrated, but understand that’s just part of the growth process. know you’ll get better if you stick with it. Good luck. Karl

  5. click
    June 4, 2012

    This is a fantastic site, would you be interested in working on an interview regarding just how you created it? If so e-mail myself!

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2012 by in Art, Painting.

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