When you're working on a painting, sometimes you lose the whole because you're staring at the parts. Other times you lose the parts because you're staring at the whole. That's why it's good to take a picture. With a picture you are brought out of whatever you are doing and you can notice that serious dark shape in the center of the piece that draws ALL THE EYES.
This painting isn't finished...but as arbitrary rule number 1 states, "Painting doesn’t have to be finished, but it has to be close." This is close. And it's close in a way where I'm excited to let it sit for a few hours (while I go back to work) so that I can think about what comes next.
I've created some problems for myself (namely that must-look-here flower in the middle), but that also opens up some design possibilities I wouldn't have considered before, namely darkening the flower immediately to its left. Maybe something with a bit of dark orange? I could then darken the vase and make the ground a bit browner as well. I have to be careful to not darken everything too much because then the big flower and the white flower will suddenly burst from the page.
Day 1 (only 29 more to go)[/caption] A common theme among my fellow participants in the Artistica Bootcamp is that above and beyond everything else (beyond the marketing, beyond the selling, beyond the this or that) beyond everything else is creating the work.
Creating. The. Work.
On paper this is so incredibly easy. Just do the work.
But if Just Do the Work was as easy as it sounded, more of us would be super fit and quad lingual.
In reality, doing the work is hard. It’s because there is life to be lived. Dinners to cook. Partners to spend time with. Art is a job, but unlike a job where if you don’t show up at a certain time everyday you get fired, the only thing that happens if you don’t show up in art is that you don’t get better. That’s not quite the same motivation as a pink slip.
So then how do we create a structure that understands our weaknesses and acknowledges the difficulties both external and internal, and helps us overcome them to do the work?
For March, it’s going to be a painting a day. With a painting a day, suddenly my art must become a top priority. I must look at everyday and make sure I can carve out enough time to make the goal. And because it’s a finite amount of time (30 days), it encourages me to keep at it. (“You only have to make it 30 more days.")
So for March, the challenge is on. I am going to try and create a piece of shareable work each and every day. Some will be complex. Some will be very simple. But each and every day I will be creating something. And as I’m doing this, I will see what in my life adjusts. It’s not just an art experiment, it’s a life experiment.
Here are my (somewhat) arbitrary rules:
1. Painting doesn’t have to be finished, but it has to be close.
2. Paintings don’t have to be aaaaamazing.
3. I can have started the painting during march. (So if I get to paint 5 hours one day and only 30 minutes another day, I can finish something I’ve started prior.) Want to paint along?
It was my birthday last week (cue the music!) and it was a lovely low key day. Each year my birthday serves as my Jan. 1st. I don’t really do serious goal setting until mid-way through February. I do this for two reasons: First, it makes me feel less pressure about the actual New Year. And second, as a lover of arbitrary dates and deadlines, it gives me permission to over analyze the hell out of myself around my birthday.
I met with Bonnie, my teacher from the Artistica boot camp, for a one-on-one a few days ago. We talked over many things, and it was a great example of how uncomfortable I am standing (in person) by my art. The internet is a whole other business. Blogs are safe because you don’t have to watch the thoughtful “Hmmmms” from across the table and wonder if they are positive, negative, or truly neutral.
One big thing from the meeting (and it was overall incredibly thought provoking and therefore positive) was that I am no longer a beginner. That was one of the most definitive things she said. “You may need to retire that line.”
At first, I felt a wave of joy. Yes! All the hard work has finally paid off, I’m no longer a beginner.
But then the fear of that reality struck. Beginning is this wonderfully safe place. Everyone is friendly in the beginner’s circle. People want to help you in the beginners circle. They know that beginners need patience and praise. And beginners get to let things slide. Oh that didn’t work? “It’s OK, you’re a beginner. You’re still learning.”
But an intermediate artist? I don’t know what that means. Beginners are defined by their beginning-ness. What is the definition of being an intermediate artist? You’re no longer new to everything, but you’re also not yet fantastic at anything. You can’t hide behind a label. No one says, “Oh man, please be patient with me, I’m an intermediate.”I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed the beginner label until I peeled it off. Because here I am declaring it. I am an intermediate painter. And now, step two, is figure out what the hell that means. Image note: Art from my new intermediate-ness.
I had an incredible art day yesterday with my Mom, watercolorist Lynn Powers. We spent the day completely immersed in art. We browsed design stores, looked through the entire Modern Art wing of the Portland Art Museum (brought there by the Lucian Freud triptych), shopped materials at Dick Blick and then traveled back to my east side apartment to look at vector work I’m doing for her and discussed my current work. In between each of these things we were mostly talking art. Where we are. Where we want to go. What challenges we are facing. How we are going to overcome them.
The entire day was perfect, but it left me feeling heavy. Not sad but weighted. And weighted is a hard way to paint.