Michael Grimaldi Workshop: "Tight"
Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 11:56PM
Sadie Valeri in Michael Grimaldi, class notes, painting

11 x 14
charcoal on gessoed panel

With the method Grimaldi is teaching us, this block-in line drawing is done in vine charcoal directly on the canvas panel, based on the thumbnails we composed yesterday. Eventually we'll do the final painting directly over our charcoal line drawing.

My favorite Grimaldi quote so far:
"The goal is to be tight, that's what we're going for. What we are not going for is to be uptight."

I really like that. Made me think a lot about that word, "tight".

"Tight" was the worst thing you could call an artist or a piece of art in my art school. "Don't be tight" and "loosen up" were the phrases drilled into us, and then we drilled them into each other. If you really hated someone's artwork, you'd say they were "too tight"; it was the most cutting critique.

It's interesting to now be part of an art world where it's ok to be "tight". The idea is that by practicing being precise and highly controlled, you learn to see the most subtle variations of value, color, form and proportion with a high degree of sensitivity - and you can always loosen up later. But the horror story repeated over and over back in my art school days was that if you practiced being tight you risked being unable to ever loosen up again. It reminds me of what mothers tell their children: "Don't make that face or it might get stuck like that."

I still don't know where I stand on it. I love seeing the expressive hand of the artist, the juicy brushstrokes and scritchy scribbles. I also love refined sensitivity and precision. I like to think there can be a happy marriage of the two. Tight but not uptight.

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