5 “P’s” – The Fifth “P” is for Perseverance

A detail of painting "Colour My World: features roses on a piano with music and a violin.
A detail of painting “Colour My World: features roses on a piano with music and a violin.

Perseverance often means a dogged determination to master the basics.   For we know that as we build that solid foundation, in the field of our endeavor, our greatest opportunity for full artistic expression is given flight.  The very repetitious and mundane practices of our craft coupled with an intellectual thirst to learn more create within us building blocks of skilled knowledge that we can pull out and use as needed.  It is of great value in the long run to spend the time and energy to make a solid foundation on which to build.

A painter’s execution bears the stamp of his personality at every point and his emotional expression is strictly limited and shaped by his technical equipment.”

– R.H. Ives Gammell, Twilight of Painting

MICHELANGELO Buonarroti Study for the Libyan S...
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti Study for the Libyan Sibyl Chalk on paper, 29 x 21 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To express oneself fully it is essential to develop ones skills by learning the time-honored basics of art.  This necessitates practice, patience, intellectual work and taking the long view.  We can both celebrate progress along the way and dedicate ourselves to bigger and better things in the future.

 “For fine pictures do not just happen.  They are the result of careful though and profound knowledge intelligently applied to the solution of an artistic problem.”  – R.H. Ives Gammell, Twilight of Painting

And from the greatest human artist that ever walked planet earth:

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”  –      Michelangelo

And so we ask, what things do we need to learn to “shape our technical equipment?”  What are the “time-honored basics of art?”

“…the very things which for centuries have been considered, by artists and picture lovers alike, essential qualities of that art.  Beautiful workmanship, fine drawing, balanced composition, the sensitive rendering of the phenomena of the visible world….”  – R.H. Ives Gammell, Twilight of Painting


“The building blocks of art:  order, harmony, proportion, unified variety, dominance, form, and so forth, are simply the principles inherent in physical reality, all of which reflect the character of the One who created it.”  Stephen Gjertson, Timeless Treasure

Let’s list some of those “basics.”

  • Beautiful workmanship
  • Fine drawing
  • Balanced composition
  • Sensitive rendering of the phenomena of the visual world
  • Order
  • Harmony
  • Proportion
  • Unified Variety
  • Dominance
  • Form

As Gjertson alluded, the “basics” in creating fine representational art mirror the natural visual world and in turn reflect the Great Creator who spoke the world into existence.  By observing and seeking to replicate what we see in nature in our artwork we learn both the skills of creating better art and an appreciation of the work of the Master Artist.

Perseverance is often in the “trifles ” of art.  Perseverance, which is often putting one foot in front of the other, is a mark of strength and grace in one’s life.

“Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.”  –  Michelangelo

The Christian concept of apocatastasis include...
The Christian concept of apocatastasis includes a restoration of the world to its original state, as in the Garden of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Michelangelo well knew, there was only one perfect Master Artist, and Michelangelo sought to imitate His work. The Master Artist’s original, the Garden of Eden, was that place of perfect beauty, harmony and order.  The rest of us fall far short, but can learn great lessons from His creative hand.  The natural world, where the building blocks of art continue to exist, visually shouts out glorious beauty and as we observe and take in those sacred lessons, our artwork is well improved, and given expression.

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