The Sight & Insight Podcast

Episode 16 - Technique

July 16, 2018

The painterly painter avoids the how-to approach, suspicious as ever, that technique will obscure his or her vision.

— Charles Movalli

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Having finished breakfast, David and Connie made time to sit down with Judy to talk about Technique, before heading out for David's Boats & Buildings workshop, so we may run shorter than usual. 

Thought for the day: Do all artists have a personal technique? Is it important to have a technique, or is it better for an artist to go out there and just keep painting? After all, technique is just "a way of carrying out a particular task; especially the execution or performance of an artistic work...." In that case, every artist should certainly have technique, but sometimes the word becomes confused with other ideas.

After doing a little research, the Dynamic Trio came up with various lists pertaining to technique, including such things as: underpainting, blocking in, building up texture, dry brush, sgraffito, glazing, painting with mediums; the list is endless. But are we really talking technique here? Never heard of sgraffito? Neither had our own intrepid artists. After further detective work, Judy came up with a definition for sgraffito: "removing paint while it is wet to expose the underpainting." This put her in mind of Emma Fordyce MacRae, the noted Cape Ann artist who had a definite style whereby she would remove flakes of paint from her canvas to let the undertones bleed through, creating something of an aged fresco look.


Picnic on Half Moon Beach, Cape Ann
by Emma Fordyce MacRae (1887-1974) Private collection

So, what do you think? Is technique important, or is it better to concentrate on just doing a better painting through practice and application?

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left: Diego Velazquez, Mars Resting, c. 1640, o/c, 70x37 in. Museo del Prado, Madrid

right: John F. Carlson, Forest Peace, o/c, 40 1/4 x 52 1/2 in. Private collection

"Art is a thing so much of the imagination, of the soul, that it is difficult to descend to the fundamentals of technique and yet make it plain to the student that these are but the 'means' and not an end in themselves."

— John F. Carlson