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Friday, August 19, 2005

Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas: "If you're going to spend years working on something, you'd think it might be wise to spend at least a couple days considering different ideas, instead of going with the first that comes into your head. You'd think. But people don't. In fact, this is a constant problem when you're painting still lifes. You plonk down a bunch of stuff on a table, and maybe spend five or ten minutes rearranging it to look interesting. But you're so impatient to get started painting that ten minutes of rearranging feels very long. So you start painting. Three days later, having spent twenty hours staring at it, you're kicking yourself for having set up such an awkward and boring composition, but by then it's too late.

Part of the problem is that big projects tend to grow out of small ones. You set up a still life to make a quick sketch when you have a spare hour, and days later you're still working on it. I once spent a month painting three versions of a still life I set up in about four minutes. At each point (a day, a week, a month) I thought I'd already put in so much time that it was too late to change."

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