I’ve decided this school year I am going to focus on exactly this question for my students as well as for myself. Generally our art department has much to be proud of (go team!) but there is always room for improvement. My colleague and I plan to focus a bit more on studio work as students’ workbooks are so strong. I want to better understand and help my students address the act of creating to improve their studio product. It’s something I’ve also been thinking about this summer while I took a creative break from my studio art: How do I make art? What are my strongest artworks and how did I go about creating them?
This is the first time in a long while I am creating art just to create. I have no commissions and only one competition in the background to even be thinking about. Yet, even so, I have caught myself judging and my inner voice wondering about details of the work when it’s not yet completed! I wonder how much of that is my personality and how much of it is something we all hear…that inner voice questioning choices and wondering if the work is any good. I just want to plug out that noise and make art to create art.
When I start with only a general idea and allow the work to direct my decisions, the work is completely different than my art I plan out. The process is fluid and all about problem solving. It also releases me from my preconceived notions of what the artwork should look like when it is finished.
When I look at work I’m most proud of or pieces that have gained recognition, most of the works have been unplanned. I have started with one idea that changes itself drastically over the course of the artwork.
For example, Looking Glass (above) started from an incomplete painting that was staring me down, waiting for its resolution. I had this image of flowers from Monet’s garden I began painting as a break from my portraiture inclination. Something got a hold of me and I never finished it. I’d come home to see it everyday as a constant reminder of my lack of follow through. Finally, when I was sick of looking at it I got out some paste and chicken wire I’d wanted to play with and began covering the painting with it. The notion of layering, not being able to see the full story, or even have two stories merge appealed to me. I saw the white texture paste as an entirely new substrate to work on and… Voila!
None of this was fully planned or even considered in my workbook, it came as intuitively as my inclination to create did: quietly and without notice. It feels like the work was there all along, as it should be.
ARTIST THINK ACTION: Are you a planner or an intuitive when you create? Why do you think one approach is more successful than another? Start a discussion with creatives and discover different ways of making art.