• Shawn Dell Joyce artist

The Creative Process-what is your masterpiece?

Everyone's creative process is a little different.


I've made many, many paintings by this point in my career. I'd estimate well over 3,000, but only a handful of major paintings. What makes a masterpiece is it's rare...either rare in that I actually like it, or rare in that it is a major work (best I've done so far).


You may think of a major work differently than me, feel free to add comments below.


Touching Joy, 24x36, Pastel a masterwork from 2016

Is it a masterpiece? Here's my criteria for a major work...

-artistic excellence! Its the best technique I can muster at this point in time. I used good materials, presented it well, and used all my training as an artist to produce the best work of art I could

-stands out as a strong painting! The artist is not usually the best judge of their work. This is where social media comes in handy. Post it, and the ones that go viral are the more successful works.

-its memorable. I forget people's names, but not their paintings. Art is memorable to me, but not to everyone. So, if someone remembers your work, then it has a good chance of being a major work. Mediocrity is forgettable!

-accidental? I often set out to produce a major work, but rarely have I succeeded. Most times the major paintings happen accidentally. I make a breakthrough because of the sheer number of paintings, or trying a new technique, etc.


I'm making a major painting right now. I've put much thought into it. This painting has mulled around in my head for months as I gathered inspiration and made sketches. Major works sometimes evolve this way, sometimes they come from divine inspiration, but mostly they are totally accidental.



this is a visioning board beside my easel. It has small photos and sketches of what I want my painting to look like.

In this case, I have it in my head to make a very traditional realism painting inspired by Old Florida; everglades, panthers, heron, etc. I'm in love with the bayous, and they way moonlight turns silvery on wet leaves and lily pads, and Spanish Moss hangs in long, langorous ropes.


It may take a few days, weeks or event months to collect this much inspiration.



value sketch-doing this made me realize it should be a low-key painting, moonlit.

Once I have a plan, and some snippets of reference material, then I can start painting. This is an oil on board painting 36"x48" and fairly large. I want it to be loose but classical realist, so it will have some detail and you will be able to tell species, but not so much detail that you can see individual leaves and branches.



block in-I started with an ultramarine wash and wiped out the lights mimicking moonlight. This is called "subtractive" painting.

I plan for this to be a major work...a quintessential Old Florida painting. We shall see! Next week you will see this painting become more resolved.

Please post your masterpieces below and any criteria you have that separates the chaff from your major works.

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