Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No pictures, just a lot of questions

I’ve been reading a lot about working in a series and developing a body of work/portfolio. Last night read an article about How to Find Inspiration. My inspiration comes mostly from viewing other artists’ work and using that as a base for my own work. In most of my pieces, there is a direct influence from another artist. I’ve written about this before – where is MY ARTISTIC VOICE? And why am I doing all this replicative (is this a word?) work?
The answer is easy – I’m using these as learning tools, learning technique by studying others’ work and trying to replicate what they did, because I admire it and want to learn how to do that. Is this bad? Isn’t that how one learns? When you learn how to paint, you begin by painting the “master’s”. Odile has us use Matisse as a master guide for our first collage. It provides a guide, a path. Not copying – just looking at his work and allowing it to influence our piece. The piece I produced was mine – but it had that Matisse influence. I could do the same with Picasso, or a Bearden collage. It’s how to learn technique.
And that is what I’ve been doing for 2 years, learning technique. So most of my pieces are replicative, you can see the direct connection. I use my sketchbook as place to collect images I admire – Odile taught us the use of the Image Journal. Each piece I’ve done, however has my “hand” in it. While you can see the influence, you can also see my “voice” in terms of color choice or something that makes it different.
But as I read about finding inspiration in nature, or scenes, or events – I begin to wonder if I have the talent/ability to create from my inner self. How do I interpret a “feeling” onto canvas? How do I look at the sunset and interpret it through color? How do I learn how to look at objects, like an apple or bowl of fruit, and create something abstract? I have little desire to learn how to draw realistically or create a picture of a recognizable bowl of fruit. So how do I take the ‘elements” of the bowl of fruit, and using design elements of line, shape, color, etc., create an interpretation?
Another part of creation is working in a series. I worked in a series for the cabin quilt – that was a lot of fun. Having the fabrics out and selecting different color choices and shapes for each was fun and added to the creative process. I worked in a series for the “Spirit Women” creating two more after the first one for my class. But I got bored and didn’t finish the 2nd and 3rd. But then again, I haven’t finished a LOT of work.
Which is another part of my dilemma – my “creator” personality is prone to brainstorming new ideas (I have lots and lots of sketches and ideas in my journals), planning and starting new projects (like today – faced with 2 ½ days of free time, do I work on unfinished projects or do I start something new? Or do I procrastinate with this self reflection?). I’m much less interested in the detail work and the finishing of the projects. OK, this is important to recognize as part of my creative process. I read recently that submission deadlines are great for keeping one on task – I’ve committed myself to two submissions this year – we’ll see how I do.
And then there is “theme” – as I look at developed artists, I see themes in their work – nature, self, architecture, travel, color exploration, etc. I’d say that one of my themes is based on the house shape – so I’m using shape to portray a theme? The house represents embodiment to me, inside houses are stories, personalities, life, soul. I don’t draw the female shape, but appear to be using the house shape as the metaphor for the soul. I don’t know about this statement – it’s just what’s coming up for me right now. Another theme in my work is around the heart shape – again shape to portray a theme. The heart shape represents love, compassion, relationships and I seem to have hearts in almost all of my work. This at times seems so juvenile, but then again, I am a beginning budding artist and so it’s OK to be juvenile (for now.) However, I see accomplished artists using the heart shape and I feel “validated” that it is appropriate.
Peace has definitely emerged as a theme in my work. I am so disturbed about the continuation of this war and unrest in the world that I feel I must make art that is dedicated to the mantra of “meditating on peace.”
I still feel uneducated on the basic design elements and want to return to that basic learning. In my art classes, each instructor has spent about an hour (max) on these elements. I want to really learn them, and through repetition, have them become part of my process. I think the creation of a fabric book with one page dedicated to each element/principle will be a good learning experience. Perhaps I can find an online class on this?
But the question remains about my creative voice. Themes have emerged – peace, houses (embodiment of soul), relationships, circles and spirals (what do they represent?). And I’ve certainly learned many techniques and explored many media – paint, paper, fabric, collage, quilting. How do I put all these together?
I’m reading Art is a Spiritual Path by Pat Allen and Painting from the Source by Aviva Gold. These raise another dilemma – producing a piece of art that will be hung on a wall versus creating for healing or self exploration. As I am learning technique, I’m focused on the former. Perhaps now it’s time to go inside? What is inside that wants to be released? But then again, what about my goals to submit work this year?

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