The Morality of Speed

morality pace speed Dec 03, 2022

What do I mean by the morality of speed???

 And what in the world does that have to do with art??

Well, I’m sure you would agree with me that there certainly are times and places when speed or speeding becomes morally wrong. It would be absolutely wrong for me to go screaming down the street in my car at a break-neck speed just as little children were being let out of school! Horrors! – No argument there. Dead wrong!

However, I’d like to direct your thoughts to another area – the creative arts. What about right and wrong in this field? Is it wrong to paint fast? Conversely, is it wrong to paint more slowly?? Is someone a “better artist” because they paint/draw/sketch at a faster speed? Of course, the answer is NO, and I think it’s healthy to dwell on this fact for a few minutes and let it sink in.

I admit. I paint quickly. It doesn’t mean I’m “good.” Having been an artist all my life, I’ve reached a point where I just work at a faster pace. Maybe because of that I’ve heard a lot of other artists lamenting and saying “oh, I’m sooooo slow”, or “Ugh – it takes me forever to….”  If you feel you’re part of a slower tribe, I’d like to encourage you to be OK with that.

You might say, “Yes, but I can’t finish a sketch in the time that others can.” And I could say to you, “That’s OK – then paint/draw/sketch the part that you CAN." Forget the “others” part.  Maybe instead of tackling the forest, you paint a tree. Instead of the tree, you paint a branch. And there are some lovely benefits to painting more slowly: you can explore and enjoy more details, you can play around with interesting colors, textures and fresh compositions. And perhaps most importantly, you lose the tension that comes from the subconscious sound track whispering “ hurry, go faster, finish…” You can create with joy at your own pace.

At this point, I also might add that if painting more quickly IS important to you, the more you practice your craft, it usually follows the more quickly you will end up painting. But it comes as a sideline result, not necessarily as a goal.

So my fellow artists, let’s lighten up on the self-condemning and the self-comparing. EMBRACE YOUR PACE! Refuse the “shoulds.” There is no art police with their radars aimed on your palette. YOU get to decide what is the right speed for your creative work. Enjoy the ride at your own pace and hopefully you’ll have a whole new appreciation for whatever scenery stands out to you along the way!