The very best days I spend in my studio are the days I paint without a thought as to how to paint. Several days ago, after having one of these magical studio days, Diane and I were sharing our usual adult beverage time, when I said to her, “you should not have to be 68 years old to realize that the real art is made without rules and conventions.” I was looking at several paintings I had just finished. What is unique about these images is that I never had a thought as to why or how when making them. I picked the simple subject of everyday tools I use. The process was make a mark respond to the mark, apply a lump of color and respond to that color. Every decision was made without preparatory analysis ( I was working in watercolor making this thinking the equivalent of heresy).
It appears that there is a conspiracy designed to encumber creativity and destroy personal taste. The conspiracy is disguised in rules, principles, traditions, and conventions. This list is convenient and powerful to those of us who teach as they are easily identified as strengths or weaknesses in the work of students. The ability to point to the absence or the omission of one or more of these rules make teachers appear knowledgeable and trustworthy. The fact is that these rules keep us from becoming the grandest version of our greatest self.
Almost every artist wants to consider themselves to be CREATIVE while most work hard to conform to styles and techniques of yesterdays heros.
Finding personal freedom in your own work is challenging and while I cannot give you the answer here are a few suggestions that may help in your quest.
1. First identify who you are PAINTING FOR or PAINTING LIKE. And then change your answer to ME.
2. Use you painting time as experiments in observation and experimentation. Observe the stuff happening on the surface of your work and experiment with new decisions (I am not referring only to materials).
3. Expand your visits to art exhibits to include “Outsider Art” and any art that you have ignored. If in Baltimore go to the Visionary Arts http://www.avam.org/
4. Know that every artist and “ism” we most admire pushed out of the status quo was once considered revolutionary, including the Impressionists.
5. Work in a series of 20 images and force yourself to keep pushing the subject to places you have never considered. This may lead to the need to change media to include sculpture and even installations.
6. Judge your work by it’s honesty not by sales, friends and family praise, awards, or inclusion in shows.
The image posted can be purchased $900.