evidence and outcome in psychotherapy

So you want to learn to paint do you? Vast powerful oil paintings a la Jenny Saville - so that's your thing?

Well, I ought to tell you first that, sadly, there just is no very good evidence linking the using of different types of brushstrokes to producing a powerful picture. Sure, certain ways of doing thing were haphazardly handed down from practitioner to apprentice over the years, but the amazing thing is, no one ever stopped to evaluate them properly.

However in the last few years we have been lucky enough to start to benefit from an intrepid range of painter-researchers. The way they've done it: they've strictly manualised the techniques for making certain brushstrokes and they've also devised an operationalised scale of painterly success.

Sadly we still have very little evidence concerning the rest of the brushstrokes - more research is always needed don't you know? - but I can say that, for a well-researched select few, the initial data are rather promising. (In all honesty though I ought to acknowledge that these techniques have so far only been shown to work when producing still lifes.) 

What's that? You're citing some evidence from ages ago, carried out in some other alleged research tradition, that the type of brushstroke makes little difference to the quality of the painting? Well, that all sounds a bit unfocused to me. And what's this vague idea you're touting now, something to do with the importance of cultivating the artist's nascent sensibility? Well, I wouldn't know about that. And this idea that different artists have different things to say? Or that different collectors are drawn to different styles? I have to say, this all sounds terribly unscientific. And, what's that: why am I focusing on brush strokes anyway!? Well, I'm really not sure I can help you if that's the way you're going. 

Right, I'm off to polish my hammer now, which is the only tool I've ever found myself to need. Good luck to you and all that. I have to say, though, it's getting mighty tiresome living in a world in which people keep imagining themselves to encounter things other than nails.


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