News from the Studio
The Living Experience: Why Paint Plein Air?
Forward to the Salmagundi Club 'Why Outdoors?:The Plein Air Painters of America' exhibition catalogue. Written by Joseph Paquet
“Why not just take a photo?”
All of us have heard that question while painting outdoors. The fact is that even the finest photo will never be a just substitute for the Living Experience of painting on location.
The Living Experience is first about connection. Being enveloped by nature affords the artist an opportunity to radiate all of our senses outward and creates multiple points of contact with a particular experience. The more senses the artist engages, the more potent the encounter.
The Living Experience is also being subject to an environment we cannot control, giving us a healthy sense of our place in the world and a measure of humility. Through humility the universe reveals itself.
On a very practical level, the Living Experience gives us the chance to have friction imposed upon us. Friction forces the artist out of numb comfort into a wakeful appreciation of the moment.
The Living Experience necessitates working quickly, allowing the artist to access intuition and to experience risk. Clarity and economy are the poetry of risk, and through them the artist opens the door for a chance to experience spirit.
So, to those who reject the values of connection, humility, friction, and risk in experiencing spirit, I say, “Yes, just take a photo.”
To download the page from the exhibition catalogue, click here.
Open Letter for All Artists
Almost every artist I speak to these days has a profound tale of woe to spin. The common complaint: bad economy = lack of sales = "Whaa happened?" For those of us who make our living and put food on our family table, it doesn't really matter what happened so much as what we can do to adjust. In our moments of panic, rash and destructive choices are made to turn a buck... we diminish ourselves and often do untold damage to careers which have taken a long time to build.
For so very long galleries were the way: the omniscient ones, and for a very long time most of them did a fine job with it. But in the end they are only merchants. No one knows better than you when you are on the right path. Rainer Maria Rilke says, "A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity." The need to say something is a far cry from the need to be heard.
There is art and there is product and they are rarely the same thing.
Walking out of the final Harry Potter movie last week I was struck by something much larger than the film. It was the fact that Ms. Rowling built this thing, this idea from thin air, moved words around in a personal way, created a world, which had not existed and turned it into a very real thing.
That is what we get to do everyday — create. We can construct what has never existed, bring something to the world and shape it with our own hearts and hands. It's a gift we have which is easy to lose sight of.
What to do about it?
Innovation, Resilience, Perseverance and Faith.
• Change your plan; create your own opportunities to teach or sell your own work.
• A good website which represents you elegantly and truthfully with new content on a monthly basis.
• More is not better; better is better. Make an effort to improve on both vision and your craft.
• If you want to be remarked about — be remarkable.
• Quality is a habit.
If you haven't already, learn to take a hit and get back up. Nothing works like it used to, and when it does change, it will be different from before. Get used to the idea and turn to yourself. It's your life, make better choices — don't be a victim.
Like Karma, the artist's life has it's own organic path if you let it unfold naturally. Work ethic, love of the job, proximity and opportunity all play a role in developing a life in art. Be clear about these and adjust your life to maximize your gifts.
Now for the most important and, ironically, counter-intuitive part of it all: Belief in yourself. Read your art history — every artist has wrestled with this
one. I have always believed that humility and hubris must walk hand-in-hand; you must have humility to receive the world, yet have the ego to face a blank canvas and believe that you can add something to it.
Make a conscious choice to surround yourself with authentic words, music and art to remind you of what is possible. Above all surround yourself with those who love and believe in you and are willing to hold up a mirror. In every weak moment my wife Natalie has been there to hand my words back to me.
Growth is always on the edge of uncomfortably.
Be grateful, be humble, be open and create without fear,
— Joe Paquet
This letter originally appeared in my email newsletter, you can sign up for it here:
Download the open letter as a PDF
Joseph Paquet, while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York, had the good fortune of finding a mentor in artist John Foote who opened his eyes to the joys of drawing the human figure. After graduating, Paquet met another major influence in his life, John Osborne, who was uniquely gifted artist and teacher. Osborne believed that a landscape painting should begin on location, but that its poetic essence should be completed in the solitude of the artist's studio. Paquet experienced a demanding and rewarding apprenticeship, in which he learned to fuse field studies with the image he could see in his mind's eye. Increasingly however, Paquet is creating most of his work from life, believing that the direct correspondence with nature increases the potential for greater feeling. "Intellect, he says, doesn't keep one warm at night."
He has been featured in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine, The Artist's Magazine, American Artist, Southwest Art and Plein Air Magazine. Paquet's awards include both Artist's Choice and Collector's Choice from The 2007 Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational as well as the 2008 Alden Bryan Memorial Prize from The Salmagundi Club of New York, the First Place in Landscape from the Richeson 75: Artist's Choice Competition and The Edgar Payne Award for best Landscape at the 97th Annual Gold Medal Show at the California Art Club.
Paquet is a Signature Member of The Plein Air Painters of America, The Salmugundi Club and an Out-of-State Artist Member of The California Art Club.