Don’t Create So Slowly Your Subject Has Time to Die

Your work’s life is in your hands.

Joe Garza
The Reckless Muse
Published in
2 min readFeb 28, 2024

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Janetta Rebold Benton’s book, How to Understand Art, relates an interesting anecdote:

“The French Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne painted many still lifes, but he worked so very slowly (up to twenty minutes between brushstrokes) that the flowers might wilt and the fruit rot before he finished.”

Cézanne obviously had enough talent to prevent his leisurely pace from getting in the way of becoming one of the most influential painters of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

But what if he didn’t?

How many of his paintings are lost to us because his subjects died before he could finish them?

Another passage from How to Understand Art stuck out to me:

“[Italian Mannerist] Tintoretto was nicknamed Il Furioso (“The Furious”) because he painted with speed and passion.”

There we go. That’s more my approach — create with some damn urgency.

I’m not saying you should sacrifice your technique to complete a work; mastery should always be a creator’s goal.

But what I am saying is, don’t let some lightning-strike inspiration go to waste.

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