Saturday, February 22, 2014

Don't Paint Yourself into a Corner

Binford-Bell Studio Chaos

I am currently in a highly creative period of my life. Which is surprising for me most especially, coming, as it did, after a period of more than a year when I seriously did not know if I was ever going to paint again. That was not the painter's equivalent of writer's block. I just didn't want to paint. And I took up the camera which had always been a tool for painting, not an end in itself, and just took photographs. And like with my painting I immediately won awards for my images.

It took a while to realize I was not a photographer. I do not get excited about fstops and ISO. I really hate tripods. I maxed out on photographs of the moon and see nothing enticing about photographing star tracks. I love the hunt for the perfect capture of elk or truck or reflection in a pond or glass. I enjoy the being outdoors with my camera and my dogs. But I am not a photographer. I am a painter who would not paint unless it was in pixels.

Abstract in Pixels

And since I have suddenly begun to paint again the question keeps coming up in casual conversations or in my head - What changed?

Why I stopped painting is really easy. I no longer liked it. Why I no longer liked it was a great deal more complicated but it boils down to I had painted myself into a corner. I was not painting for me but for galleries and art fairs and the expectations of others. Photography won out because I was taking photographs for me. Not even for possible paintings. Of course I was going to like photography more.

But photography was just treading water. And one day as I was reviewing images I had pixelated on my computer I became discontent. There was this photo which was not quite right. It failed just short. And I thought of what it would look like in a painting. It was not an image any gallery I had been associated with would like to carry, it wasn't like any that I normally used to sell but it needed to be painted. For me.

Meraki (mA-'rak-E) -- Greek noun

The soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

And in that moment I began to paint again I knew that was why I had stopped painting; my soul had been missing from my work. I had reduced painting to the mechanics of the exercise. Easy for me to do because I am a college trained fine arts graduate. And in a conversation with another friend who knows all the right techniques the other day I came to understand how limiting that can be. She asked how to escape that training and I told her to cut off her right little finger. I literally did in 2006 and so wanted to create that I began painting with my left hand.

I had forgotten that. It is so much easier to put up barriers to creativity than surmount them. Artists are perfectionists and we will abuse ourselves for not obtaining that. Another artist soul I know stopped painting because she did the best she thought she could do on her last painting. "Good enough place to stop." But it isn't. You need to see every painting not as a door at the end of a hall but a door that can be opened to the next painting.

Why have you stopped creating? There is no more place to hang paintings, no place to store them. I have not come up with a new idea in x time. Nobody is buying art. I need to clean the house, build birdhouses, feed the dogs, etc. Argue for your limitations and they are yours. Or you can cut off your little finger on your right hand. Or your ear like VanGogh. Just stop, take a deep breath and listen to your soul.

1 comment:

  1. That is some corner!!

    So you are not a photographer although you take fabulous pictures. Sometimes it is possible to combine the life of a photographer with that of the artist but I am guessing (not so much guessing as knowing) that you are above all else, an artist first, space or no space to store. Photography is fun but merely a distraction whilst awaiting inspiration.

    You are an artist. Having said that, the canvas sometimes stays blank for weeks, or even months on end but at the end of the day, the creativity, the vision, the brush will always be there, Paint on Jacqui - it's what you do.


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.