Monday, March 28, 2011

Searching for YOU

"The Rise" 22"x30"  watercolor on paper

Why Self. Why is it important to find your personal voice, style, or mark as an artist— or is it? The answer to this question is yours, but a look at options is valuable when making the choice.  Historically the artists we most admire and respect are those whose work we recognize by their distinctive style, ideas, marks, and consistency.  Most other art we identify by recognizable subject matter, but that has little to do with the author. ("That looks just like a rose/lighthouse/grand canyon-".  One group of artists creates, the other group imitates.

Creative or Imitative The road less traveled is the road of creative and personal.  This is the road traveled by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollack, and David Hockney, and many others. These are the artist who give meaning to the term "creative arts". This is a harder road to travel because it means leaving the comfort of the established, accepted, recognizable group and style and venturing into unknown territory without certainty of success.

Handicaps and Hurtles.  There are many reasons not to choose "the road less traveled".  Most of the available instructional art books, magazines, and teachers teach "How To" make someone else's painting. Too often, juried shows appear to be more about conformity than creativity. Sadly,paintings are often purchased by people wanting something for their walls that is simply decorative, that match the sofa, remind them of a person, place or thing,  and is not TOO expensive. They are less interested in the artists' exploration or statement. In the world of commercial success there are few reasons to take artistic risks and numerous reasons to conform.

Exploration.  One thing is undeniable,  that is if you do not take chances nothing is going to change.  The unknown can be a scary place or an opening to adventure.  Think of stepping away from process and tradition as an unplanned vacation in search of the things never seen or experienced.  Proceed from a place of no fear.  Take every chance, listen to your intuitive voice, prepare for marvelous disasters, and do not evaluate success with the same old rules. Be more like van Gogh than the television artist.
This is not to say that non representational art  is always original,and representational art is never personal. However, the task to bring a fresh point of view to  a recognizable subject is very challenging. But maybe it is the challenge of Your lifetime. And bringing real expressive content to abstract art is equally daunting. But if you don't push, we'll never see what You have to say.

Finding YOU.  Paint as if you had invented painting.  When unique color combinations, shapes, lines, and textures reveal themselves rejoice and move forward.  Paint as if no one was ever going to see your creations.  I cannot help but believe that all great art is born of exploration.

Leave Yourself at Home.  We all know how easy it is to give advice and how hard it is to make it happen.  Here are a few suggestions that may help.  Make a contract with yourself saying that for a month you will paint like you have never painted before, exploring every notion and thought,  with an oath that no one will ever see the paintings done during this time. During this time you will forsake every rule, convention, tradition and "thou shalt not" you have ever heard and paint EXACTLY what and how you want.

                                          "Night Search"    22"x 30"    watercolor on paper