"…the first quality that is needed is Audacity."
Those words are from Winston Churchill - a man certainly known to have had audacity. But in this case, he wasn't speaking of politics or war. He was speaking of making paintings. At the age of 40, Churchill took up landscape painting and wrote an essay in 1932 entitled "Painting as a Pastime" to express his enthusiasm for it. So, before he urged his country to courageously face Nazis, he urged them to bravely face blank canvases.
He goes on to say, "The truth and beauty of line and form which by the slightest touch or twist of the brush a real artist imparts to every feature of his design must be founded on long, hard, persevering apprenticeship and a practice so habitual that it becomes instinctive. We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paintbox. And for this Audacity is the only ticket."
I'm no Churchill, but I do understand the value of courageously working day after day on my drawings and paintings making slow and steady progress. Certainly facing setbacks. Anything I've accomplished has been through hours and hours and decades of effort. Churchill speaks in his essay about how humbling making art is. How right he is.
Making this ink wash drawing, for instance, was certainly humbling, though not in a serious way. Huddled under a roof's overhang on rainy day in Italy, a pigeon from above, pooped on me and my drawing…splat, splat. There on the left edge, that ghosty stain, is the remnant of the bombing campaign.
Pigeons can have Audacity too.
My favorite line from the essay: "The painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the lookout for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and set up and carried safely home."