I produce about 24 drawings a year. They don’t all turn out well, which is neither surprising nor heartbreaking. This piece is a dud. The composition was dramatic with beautiful color and familiar material – I’ve drawn a lot of nasturtiums over the years – but the final product failed the “can this leave the house?” test, so it went to the Strawberry Hill Transfer Station rather than the gallery.
In order to pass the test, the painting must be entirely “meant”. van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” passes the test – every passage is approached with the same degree of confidence and finish. The viewer doesn’t doubt the wall behind or the surface (a table?) beneath the vase and flowers. The painter didn’t piddle off in the corner, where he wasn’t sure how to indicate a further room. A great painting might be drawn badly (Velasquez drives me nuts) but the passage is carried through like a knife though water – we are unfazed by any discrepancy.
Tonight I have a small crystal bowl full of huge purple blackberries to start on; we’ll see where it ends up.