Art Quote for the Day

WORKING METHOD

” It’s painful to think of the number of paintings that don’t work, not only my own, but also what I see in galleries and museums.  Such failures may be adequately painted but they don’t sing.  They’ve left the studio but they aren’t happy about  it.  It’s simple and inevitable: there’s work we artists do that doesn’t come together.  And for each of us there’s only one solution to this problem. You just continue to  make paintings, and you make more paintings, and then for no particular reason all of a sudden you start to click and all the pieces that you’ve been working with , the direction you’ve been perceiving “as if through a glass darkly” is now open and clear, in all its glory.  We paint and everything falls into place.  That expression of being “in the zone” expresses the experience perfectly.  There is a momentum you’ve built up which was essential to this new work.  If you had been waiting  for inspiration, waiting  for that flow to begin, it would have caught you too flat-footed to notice.  It arrived out of the readiness that all the previous work had created in you  .  Regardless of how sluggish that process may have seemed at the time, things were  lining up  in preparation, ideas were formulating.

The making of art offers a poor example of efficiency at work.  Yet all that practice and preparation makes us ready when for some reason everything gets lined up and we become as if conduits for the spirit.  It shows in the result. the rest of the time we work to keep the channel open until things realign. Then, inexplicably and in exhilaration, everything goes right.

So much of our output seems destined to be merely preparation.  It’s what  makes the inevitable harsh judgment of our work when it’s not going  well so counterproductive, particularly when we compare our struggles in the studio to someones else’s edited, presented gallery work.  When we judge our output against someone else’s, we tend first to admire their mastery of their  obsessions.  We each have certain  fascinations and because of that  we excel at them.  So we may notice a painter’s handling of reflections or the way they handle paint itself and think we cna never paint like that.  And perhaps we may not.  Because that’s their area,not ours: it holds them and they have wrestled with it and perfected it. Our own obsessions are so close to us we probably can’t see them.  We’re  blind to our own magic.

The lengths an artist will go to create a particular way of painting is also deceptive.  We can think of Sargent who worked hard, scraping and repainting pieces, to get that effortless look of virtuosity.  We can’t compare that with what we’ve just finished working on this morning  Just because someone’s painting looks loose or facile doesn’t mean it was done quickly or effortlessly.

Creative Authenticity – 16 Principals to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision by Ian Roberts

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Art Quote of the Day

” The individuality of your artistic voice takes a while to mature,but be reassured, it’s there. Only a very few artists, such as Durer, VanDyck, Bonington, Sargent, and Picasso, did notable work in their early teens.  The overwhelming number of artists  take much longer.  ( on the other end of the scale we find Auguste Rodin, who was thirty-six when he completed his first masterwork, and Milton Avery and Jean Dubuffet, who became full-time painters after the age of forty.  Hokusai tells us that “since the age of six I have had the habit of sketching forms of objects..  Although from about fifty I have often published my pictorial works, before the seventieth year none is worthy.”) It’s clear that the pace of artistic development is more likely to resemble that  of  the proverbial tortoise than than the hare-like course of athletes and some musicians.  ( In the early Renaissance, students were bound to master for twelve years.)  Artists ordinarily take a great deal of time to arrive at the necessary high level of synthesis and coordination between eye, hand and  mind. This process can’t be accelerated by anything except work.

It may happen that you find yourself making art early on that looks fully developed and receives some recognition. Perhaps it is mature, but if you’re honest with yourself, you might have to admit that for you it lacks meaning or roots.  You have discovered that your work is not genuinely yours, and you must reassess where you are going. You need to keep searching for a way of expressing yourself that will elicit the response from you:  “THAT’S ME”  Ben Shahn describes this experience in his early life as an artist:

‘ It was during those years that the inner critic first began to play hara-kiri with my insides. With such ironic words as, “It has a nice professional look about it ,” my inward demon was prone to ridicule  or tear down my work in just those terms in which I was wont to admire it.  The question, “Is that enough? Is that all?” began to plague me. Or, “This may be art but is this my own art?”  And then I began to realize that however professional my work might appear, even how original it might be, it still did not contain the central person which, for good or ill, was myself.”

The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse by Anna Held Audette