Quantity vs Quality?

Which do you find helps most to improve your art?  Focusing on quantity or focusing on quality?

I recently read about a study in which a pottery class was split in two groups.  One group was assigned to produce as much pottery as possible and their grade was based on poundage.  The other group was assigned to produce one perfect pot.  According to the study, the poundage group produced some of the best pots.

Seems suspect to me!

On the other hand, there's the saying "Only perfect practice makes perfect!"

Mark's method is very exacting and I've learned a lot from trying to follow it.  So, I tend to make each painting as perfect as possible within limits.  

What are your thoughts?



Comments

  • Like you I try for quality over quantity, @mstrick96. I try to make each one as good as I can make it. I don't see the point otherwise. I guess if you go for quantity a few of the many will turn out ok but that strikes me as an unreliable approach.  :)
    allforChrist
  • edited December 2022
    I know this is literal translation of your question, but it makes sense for pottery because it’s more about muscle memory than anything else, throwing at least. I would say the same thing applies to watercolor. Oils not so much because you can keep on piling layers until you get what you want.

    i would say when starting quantity is important because that’s the only way you will learn brush handing and composition. I think I would have gotten nowhere if I’d just kept tinkering with some of my old pieces trying to turn trash into gold. Now I do quantity when sketching & planning and quality when painting.
  • Quality.  I took Mark’s advice to heart.  Try to make the painting you are currently doing your next master.  I still think that way three years later.
  • edited December 2022
    Definitely quality about painting. No need to pile up paintings that you won't like because you haven't put enough effort into them. Big thing for me is to aquire more patience and slow down as I tend to be impatient and rush the finish. I am always unhappy about rushed parts.
    However I relate about what is said about sketching.
  • Quality.

    Also.. thinking "I could stop now, but what else can I do to improve it?"
    allforChrist
  • edited December 2022
    Yes quality.

    Make every effort to make the piece you are working on the best you possibly can.

    Having said that I can also appreciate the positives in quantity, but more in terms of practice.

    A couple of years ago when I did a painting a day for 30 days I still did them the best I could but there was not the luxury of time to focus and get them to be as good as they would be if I had a couple of days for each.

    Other positives came out of doing that like trusting my abilities and myself more. I also didnt do any pre-drawings for any of them and I had always done pre-drawing before. I would sometimes only come up with an idea of what to paint right before it. Probably over two thirds turned out ok.

    But its not how I would or have continued to work. 

    I find that there is something deeply meditative  about taking the time to get it to where you want it.
    GTOMoleMan
  • As a newbie, I'd say quantity.

    There's so many options and choices and subjects and... that spending ages on 1 artwork is counterproductive. 

    Once you nail some skills, find styles you enjoy and subjects that inspire you, that is when quality can take the lead.
    CBGCsontvaryMarinos_88
  • My current painting is my ninth original painting over nearly 30 years. I have about another 12-15 paintings done in classes. I haven't had time for quantity because of work and other things. But as soon as I started painting I began looking, observing, thinking about painting. Sitting at the beach observing the colour of shadows in the sand or whatever. I was learning the whole time. I'd love to have done quantity but it is what it is.
    allforChrist
  • Another vote for quality for me. I’ve only got about a dozen paintings under my belt so far, but in each one I’ve strived to do the best I can. If I wok fast then I find quality suffers, and I quickly become disillusioned. 
  • edited December 2022
    Not one v's the other; but Both.
    Ed to add, sometimes a quick work has a spontaneity to it, which is quickly ruined by overwork.   More often it is the reverse!
    CsontvaryMoleMan
  • I'd say it should be a combination of both. 

    As a beginner, you're probably better off doing many smaller paintings to a  high level of quality, until you become more proficient.  Each painting, large or small, has its own unique challenges, and everytime you overcome them, you learn something, whereas if you spend month upon month on the same work, you might not end up making as much progress, but I can certainly see the counterargument.

    I've never followed Mark's method in full as I prefer to start painting with a first block in layer where I cover the canvas in one sitting, and only when that layer is dry start perfecting the details.  THat method has served me well as it improves my composition and determining values at a more basic level before details start to muddy things.  (That does come with a lot of abandoned paintings, which isn't the greatest thing, but I figure I'll eventually get to them!).

    My Instagram handle is npz_art if you're interested in seeing some of my work, which has progressed quite a bit from the works i have posted on this site over the years. 
  • Csontvary said:
    I'd say it should be a combination of both. 

    As a beginner, you're probably better off doing many smaller paintings to a  high level of quality, until you become more proficient.  Each painting, large or small, has its own unique challenges, and everytime you overcome them, you learn something, whereas if you spend month upon month on the same work, you might not end up making as much progress, but I can certainly see the counterargument.

    I've never followed Mark's method in full as I prefer to start painting with a first block in layer where I cover the canvas in one sitting, and only when that layer is dry start perfecting the details.  THat method has served me well as it improves my composition and determining values at a more basic level before details start to muddy things.  (That does come with a lot of abandoned paintings, which isn't the greatest thing, but I figure I'll eventually get to them!).

    My Instagram handle is npz_art if you're interested in seeing some of my work, which has progressed quite a bit from the works i have posted on this site over the years. 
    Perhaps, for those of us not familiar with instagram, you have some works posted here you can link us to?  I tend to paint in a similar fashion and am just getting around to some I set aside months ago.
  • in my opinion, quantity is the means to developing quality.

    It can be a lot more helpful to consider quantity to be a measure of time, rather than a number of completed works. after a large enough quantity of focused working hours, quality becomes difficult to avoid. This way of thinking also frees the artist to choose tasks suited to their current level of ability, doing more menial tasks until they are warmed up enough and prepared to do the more difficult parts of painting, whatever those may be for that individual.

    To take an example from outside of the visual art world, champion jumping horses usually have at least four years of training before they are expected to jump 7' off the ground carrying a rider. If the horse had not accumulated enough hours of this training it would be much less likely to succeed in the arena.

    Furthermore, champion jumping horses still have to warm up with some easier exercises before they do the 7' jump, even if they have 10 years of training and regular perfect jumping rounds.
    tassieguyallforChrist
  • @toujours thank you for the kind words !
  • If improvement is the goal, my personal factor is "dissatisfaction". Never be fully satisfied with your work and try to make the next painting better. 
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