I am fortunate to live 2 minutes away from the Tate Britain and I try to visit from time to time.
Last summer they put on an exhibition called ‘The Great Landscapes by John Constable.’ I have to say that I was abso-lutely in awe of his work! As a songwriter I learnt four very valuable lessons as I studied his paintings. I think they apply to many other creative disciplines.
1. Constable made quick sketches and finished small oil paintings on the spot at the source of inspiration. As a song writer I need to capture those moments of inspiration at source and make quick sketches, which become the basis for the completed piece.
2. Constable made full size sketches of his six foot landscapes. I found it staggering that Constable made a full size ‘rough version’ of each of his six foot landscapes! The detail and quality of each rough sketch was amazing. As a song-writer I learn from Constables dedication to the finished product. To think he spent that much time dedicated to even a rough draft is inspirational.
3. Some of the final works were finished many years after the initial sketches. For instance, Constables work Hadleigh Castle was sketched in 1814, the finished painting was completed in 1928! As a songwriter I have an A4 book stuffed full of lines, words, impressions and melodies… maybe in 14 years they will find their final form. Until then I need to under-stand that they are initial sketches which may not be completed for years and not let that unfinished state cause me anxi-ety like so much unfinished work can often cause…
4. x-ray examination of Constables paintings show evidence that he reworked the composition of the canvas. This con-firms to me my oft cited phrase that ‘the best writing is rewriting!’ I think that this is true of all the arts and Constable seems to have understood this point well. As a songwriter I need to respect my ideas enough to keep rewriting the mate-rial for as long as it takes.
So there you have it… did anyone else seen the Constable exhibition or know about his career? What have you learnt from artists? Please feel free to share your thoughts!