Monday, August 14, 2006

A work in progress

Moving on to somewhat Impressionist brushwork. It's a work in progress. I'd like to make the girl's face a bit happier. She looks a bit pinched and anxious at the moment. Also (now that I'm looking at it closely) that hat looks a bit goofy.

I got flamed a bit, recently, about my artwork. The five W's aren't important (who, what, when, where, why) but it does bring up a very salient point for me:

"Your work is incomplete. It doesn't look...full, or finished. And you can't just stop painting for a long time like that and then suddenly decide to get back into it, because it won't be the same."

I have an allergy to that one tiny contraction crouched in there in the middle.


Can't I?

Because it may not have appeared readily apparent, but you know, I am doing it.

I would politely offer this conjecture: When is anything finished? How do you know?

Perhaps my stroke is not incomplete but rather, as one of my artist friends has pointed out, bold and confident.

Bold and confident! I like the sound of that.

Also, if one ceases to paint and chooses to simply observe and analyze for a time, be it a month or a decade, could that not be construed as yet another phase in the painter's relationship with the canvas?

I've found that when you try to order creativity with rules, you lose it:

there's no protection in your longing
no distance in your loneness
as you search for reason
in your world of absolutes.

....Which is one reason I didn't enjoy art school. Where they throw your work on the floor and trample your spirit and tell you everything you dream of belongs under their boot.

So I smile gently. I do.

Because I've found that there are two kinds of criticism.
  1. The constructive kind, where the other person genuinely wants to see you improve and hone your skills to a high polish.
  2. The controlling kind, where the other person genuinely wants to see you fall back into line and modify your skills accordingly until your work resembles what they would prefer.
And it's possible that the reason I disappeared from the art world for over a decade is because it took me about that long to tell the difference between the second kind and the first.

The second kind is crushing until you realize what's happening; then you're freed from it always, and that's where I'm at.

And the view is beautiful.