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Skol'ko. How Much?

by Karen Cooper on 4/2/2014 7:14:15 AM

This post is by guest author, Karen Cooper.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 25,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.



Welcome to the Cooper studio, on duty in Russia.  And actually we’re in Penza today, a city about 6 hours east of the temporary home turf of Lipetsk.


Penza has about the same number of people as Lipetsk, a half million or so.  A river snakes around one side of town.  Wikipedia says Penza is way older than Lipetsk.  And I’ve already told you about Penza’s Savitsky art museum.  Sigh.  Lipetsk does not have one of those.


What they absolutely positively both have in common, is something that needs to be painted.  At every turn, there it is.  The next greatest painting.  The next new favorite inspiration.  The “I will paint this very thing SOON."  (I have a bad feeling I might even have to break down and paint some snow – horrors!)


But I must veer off course momentarily.  Flash back to a Friday.  As I have told you before, the main reason we are in Russia is that spouse is consulting for an agricultural company here.  And the company New Year party was Friday night.  Of course there were a few speeches, much fun dancing, good food & wine, a few good employee awards.  The person who kept things rolling at the microphone was a short guy.  Must have been a comedian of sorts.  The natives were laughing, the foreigners were not able to keep up with their limited language capabilities.  We did understand that there was a gig of sorts going on – he would stick a mic in someone’s face and holler “skol'ko!”  And each would holler back a reply, numerical form.  So learning by default, skol'ko сколько means:  how much?


Yesterday, as I traversed Penza with the camera, skol'ko came to mind again. 


How much is that new favorite inspiration worth? That next image I see that I am pretty darn certain needs painted?


As I said a few paragraphs ago, the scenes out there in our everyday are limitless.  What’s the skol'ko?  


Undeniably, the end result, the painting, has differing dollar values per the artist. 


But the inspiration to the artist,  skol'ko??  Are those endless inspirations out there worth anything at all, until the artist sees them personally?  Skol'ko?

I would like to toss out there the idea, that the images we see are not nearly as important at the moment of seeing, as they are after we've rolled them over in the old thought process function.  As they are after we play in the sketch book with them.  As they are after we struggle over the personal decision about what to leave out, what to add in.  As they are after we start to put them on the canvas with our favorite color palette.


Skol'ko.  I don't think it's there from the start.  I think you, the artist, have to give it.  


Later, KCooper




Editor's Note:  You can view Karen's original post here.


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Topics: advice for artists | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration 

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Joyce Wynes
Really enjoyed your post. It entertained and educated at the same time.

Love how you explained the theory that the better image is created in the eye of the beholder (artist) after viewing it in person. I agree that an artist can embellish and give the actual image an added personality after the viewing.

In my opinion, that is what an artist should be able to do. That defines the accomplished artist from the rest.

Geri deGruy
Yes, we take the inspiration, roll it around in our minds and hearts, work with it, add ourselves and our idiosyncratic vision and create art, our personal way of seeing. But thank God for the inspiration!

Susan G Holland
Karen, this is such a charming post! I can just sense the euphoria of travel in it. I remember that same effect from foreign travel and it's great to put it into a sketch book, and also to sit down for some plein air work.

I submit also, that there is some of that euphoria to be had "right here in River City." But you have to initiate an attitude of "can't wait to see what's out there today" to find it.

The habit of childlike wonder is a great thing to cultivate, and you will find miracles of beauty in the most ordinary places.

Looking forward to seeing the Russian accent in your art of the next year or so, (or more.) Susan

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Karen..

Luv This!! Your post makes me want to be there.
I cannot better express the other artists replies. I so agree with what they have written.

Brian Sherwin
A local landscape painter intentionally finds 'mediocre scenes' in order to make them 'pop' on canvas. He likes the challenge of doing that... and seeing the reactions of people who know the area when said work is exhibited. He locks on to the strong qualities of the location and builds from there -- with the goal of making an otherwise dull scene stand out. :)

Donald Fox
Ah, Karen, you bring up lots of memories for me: onion domes, kremlins, trains sliding though a frozen landscape, incredible soups, strong teas... but I only had two weeks. Lucky you.

Marian Fortunati
Yes, Karen... what a treasure you have been offered. What's it worth??

Aren't those experiences, people and places in our lives what makes it worthwhile?

Thanks again for putting a smile on my lips!! (And to me THAT's worth a LOT!!)

As I read all the comments to this point, in one fell swoop, I found myself thinking that possibly artists are roamers at heart.
Brian, you point out what we all grudgingly will admit to, that we don't HAVE to travel off our own block to find a potential painting.
I suggest that as artists we are so hooked on seeing, that we want it all, our backyard AND everything else we imagine is out there. And if we plan on painting when we get there, it gives us an excuse (ha, an iron clad validation) to go find it.

jo allebach
There's no place like home.... but I sure would love the opportunity to see and learn of the rest of the world. There is much to say for being able to observe no matter where and make the interpretation available to others.


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