The Rest


For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

— T.S. Eliot

Businesspeople are always citing Voltaire’s advice, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

They know you’ll never earn a profit, if you do.

I wish more painters felt that way.

Instead, they fuss ad nauseam with their paintings, then hide them from viewers’ eyes in a garage or basement.

Sure, some paintings should be hidden from sight.

Most of them, to be candid.

But, for the painter, the relentless pursuit of perfection is a fool’s errand. For us, there is only the trying.

That’s because no painting is ever done.

“One of the most difficult things in the world to do is to start a work of art,” says Jack Faragasso in The Student’s Guide to Painting.

“It is just as difficult to finish one.”

The earnest painter never considers a painting finished.

She always, always could have done better. She just does the best she can… and moves on.

Of course, the earnest painter cannot move on.

All she can really do is quit.

Critic John Berger once said of Giacometti, “He believed it impossible for a work to be finished.” And so his paintings aren’t about “the nature of the figure portrayed, but the incomplete history of him staring at it.”

No painting is ever done.

Done is not our business.

Above: Portrait of James Lord by Alberto Giacometti. Oil on canvas. 45 x 31 inches.