I cannot stress enough the importance of writing daily. Whether it is done in a journal, sketchbook, or on the computer – an artist needs to write daily. If you have ever had the experience of a profound insight while talking something out to yourself or to another person, then you know what I mean. (This happens to me a lot in the car for some reason.) Writing allows for an open stream of consciousness that leads to new ideas. Sometimes it is really hard and I have to force myself. I will begin by writing the most mundane things – what I am doing at that moment, what I dreamt about the night before, or what my plans for the day are. Ideally this will lead to me writing about more complex issues regarding my life and art. My life and art are related and interwoven, so it is impossible to write about one without writing about the other. Regardless, this active attention forces me to discover things about myself and my work. It forces me to sit back and analyze my habits. Writing leads to clarity and ultimately better art. If necessary I often prompt myself with questions such as, “why am I painting this?” or “why did I use those colors?” or why is the painting this size?”. These questions allow me to look more analytically at what I am doing and why. This is helpful both before picking up the brush and also after putting it down. Writing, done consistantly, will open creative doors you wouldn’t even know existed. It all seems obvious enough but today I was looking back over some of my old journals and sketcbooks and I was reminded of this value. I wanted to take the opportunity to share. Happy writng!
Today I did number 14 in my Pond Study Series. You can see the dulling of colors, which is a departure from my usual palette. The lone willow tree just right of the center is holding onto its foliage, as is the adjacent pine. The other side of the pond grows more and more bare. Strangely, the sky seems perpetually grayer than usual. I purposefully limited my palette in composing this painting. I used only ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, burnt umber, and titanium white. I think this limitation forced me to stay within a certain range of tone throughout the piece. I want to continue with this practice in having painting related goals for future pond studies. I continue to learn not only about observation of a subject matter but also about paint manipulation. I am allowed risks and experiments through the repetition. I would suggest this kind of project for any artist. This should be done periodically through any artists career as an opportunity for growth and discovery. For future pond study pieces I will limit palette, mark making, and time of execution. It is a strange feeling, that I am somehow becoming connected to this scene. I am seeing my own personal transformations through the land’s seasonal phases.
“Those who carry on their work as a demonstration of preconceived thesis may have the joys of egotistic success but not the fulfillment of an experience for its own sake.”
John Dewey, Art as Experience, p.144
I found this quote tucked in the binding of an old journal last week. I returned to it again today after a frustrating morning in battle with a painting. In an attempt to grow – and not just produce hundreds of little paintings that I know will work- I tried a larger piece again today. I used a bigger knife, larger shapes; all of the things I thought would fix the problem. I had progress, but not complete success. But today I remind myself that this is necessary for the journey.