Recently I bought three large, 76 x 101 cm canvases to paint. You should see me trying to paint them since I don’t have a studio, and I do not have easels.
I actually think it is quite ingenious how I duck taped forks to the counter to stop the paintings from slipping off while I lean the canvases up against the cupboards. I even had a chair on the sink that the back of one canvas leaned against.
Let me take a moment to step back to one of my older paintings.
I created this during my stay in Budapest in the house of a friends, who also commissioned the work. Editing the photos and posting them online in my fotoblog excited me. I felt this was a large step in direction for me. It reminded me of how thrilling it was to step completely out of my space and jump into a foreign environment with very minimal supplies and still be able to create my art as I saw it. It reminded me how much I enjoyed painting it too, the excitement of images coming out of the painting for me to see, which I had my friend there to also see them progressing. Usually painting alone, this was a fun addition too.
After I posted the exploration of the painting on my fotoblog, I excitedly showed this to a few of my friends who I feel are also fans. One of them gave me critical feedback. He said use less colours Ned. I love black and whtie photography, and respecting this man greatly, I appreciated his feedback. This has been in my mind since he told me that, which I’ve been thinking about while painting the three canvases I now face in my kitchen.
This thought is causing some conflict in my mind though.
How can there be criticism to something that simply comes from within [art], something that breaks down boundaries to explore impulse without direction or preconceived notions?
You see, I believe my work comes is derived largely from impulse: from chance and encounter with the canvas, from shifts of the blade, and from shapes and motion.
When I step up to a canvas, the only thing I know for certain are the following:
- I will use [mainly] white as my base
- I will use a 1″ painting knife
- I will look for images in my painting as I set the base
So, starting these paintings I had the words of my wise friend in my mind, his encouragement to reduce my palette.
I was talking about this to another artist, how it was suggested for me to reduce my palette and study just a few colours. This new friend asked me why anything but my own inspiration should lead my art forward. Why should I listen to this other person who isn’t painting my art?
You can imagine the state of my mind from this comment. Respect and inner strength and dreams all fighting one another.
Today I was reading my Art History book, and read this quote by Joan Miró [an artist I respect]: “Rather than setting out to paint something, I begin painting and as I paint the picture begins to assert itself, or suggest itself under my brush. The form becomes a sign for a woman or a bird as I work. […] The first stage is free, unconscious. […] The second stage is carefully calculated.” ~ (Burstein Collection/Corbis)
Today I decided that when somebody suggests something to me, as a friend, as an idol, as a mentor, or as a lover, it is not to fundamentally change what I do in life [if it is I choose to remain positive and perhaps ignorant]. What this criticism is to me, what I have decided about today, is that this criticism is simply subtle observations that should encourage me to be more weary of specific things in every movement of my body, no matter what form or art or creation it is in.
Don’t get me wrong, if I’m in an office, and I use Ts instead of Fs, and somebody catches me and gives me flak, yes, I’ll change the way I do things.
I’m talking about art though. The quest of art. The exploration of self for creation. Everybody has a different quest in their artistic direction. Some aim to capture real life and display it for others to see, some seek to experiment with shapes, others with colours, others with architectural exercises…
But for me, this is the answer.
I will continue to explore the workings of my own mind, seeking not to be dragged down by others telling me how. But I will seek inspiration in everything, actively pursuing knowledge, increasing my reception to the world, and believing in myself, and I will encourage always others to tell me what they think, so that I will become weary of the way others see things too.
So, I’m curious… how do you follow your creative path?