Recently I was at the Art Gallery of Ontario and lucky enough to have a “solo” tour as I was the only person who showed up. I learned more about the art I had shown an interest in, but thanks to the tour guide who pushed me beyond my comfort zone, I gained great insights about paintings that were otherwise just ‘not my scene’.
I noticed an amazing transformation going on within myself – I started to connect to those paintings.
Why? The story!
That got me thinking I need to work more on the story associated with my art. People generally find it hard to connect with abstract work, but story can help.
Of course, I want to leave the story open enough for the viewer to make sense of it for themselves rather than feed it to them on the plate – otherwise I would be painting realistically!
“Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.”, Twyla Tharp, Choreographer
Painting is like a two-way conversation. The artist contributes to it by adding paint or a line, taking something away, tweaking, moving.
The canvas replies by letting you know what it needs and what isn’t working.
It’s a back and forth. Back and forth.
One of the goals in my art is to achieve the delicate balance between calm and having enough on the canvas to sustain interest. I envision ultimately, large areas of calm in my work. But why is it so hard to achieve?
You would think it’s easier to do nothing than to fill that nothingness with something of beauty. Not for me.
Calm is scary if you’re not in its habit. It’s like that silence in conversations that makes us awkward. Yet we also long for periods of silence. I would say we even need silence.
Right now I’m working with “degrees of calm.” I’m not ready for blank calmness and I may never be. But I can do less and that is a degree of calm.
April Gornick says: “Great art should be vulnerable to interpretation. It shouldn’t be a fixed thing.” That’s why I love contemporary art, because it’s so undefined.
I read an artist’s comment (unfortunately I didn’t note who said it) that’s proven true in my own practice: “Paint a lot. Just get in your studio and make something, even if it’s crap. Finish it them make something else. Don’t just wait for inspiration, Creative thoughts come while you’re creating.”
I am drawn to abstract art has “depth” or “maturity” in that there are many layers and working into them to create depth and interest. What I hope to achieve in my own work is that depth, yet overall simplicity of composition. To create that sense of calm but with enough interest to hold the viewer is my ultimate goal, and a very challenging one, indeed.
People think that my hobby (making abstract art) is fun. It’s not. It’s darned hard work. In fact, if it were a paying job I’d probably resign! It’s absolutely true to say that my day job is less of a slog than painting. Yet I keep doing it and no one is forcing me so I’ll shut up before it sounds like I’m complaining!
I’ve learned that what Chuck Close says is absolutely true: “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work”