5 x 8 oil on paper
In an effort to continue loosening up my artwork and moving more in an impressionistic direction, I've been working on composition and the abstract underpinning beneath my paintings. I was challenged by an artist friend and mentor to swing the pendulum all the way to the extreme and try some abstract paintings -not necessarily as an end goal, but as an exercise to break free of realistic subject matter to focus only on design elements.
I have to admit this was pretty intimidating. After 20 years of painting if you give me something- a flower, a building, a landscape..., I can probably figure out how to portray it on canvas or paper. But creating something from nothing? After resisting for a few days, I finally gave in last week and did about 10 small black, white and grey designs in my sketchbook. It was uncomfortable and I was reminded that it's new, so of course it's not comfortable.
Yesterday I decided to step it up a notch and try to do some abstract designs with paint and canvas paper. I am not typically a procrastinator, but I could see I was putting it off as long as possible. I wondered, "What am I resisting? What am I afraid of?
So this was my first attempt to paint something based on no subject matter- only organizing shapes, values and color. At first it felt very strange, but once I got going, it was kind of freeing. When you paint something realistic, you have something to compare to. It gives you a sense of if you are 'in the ballpark" or not. But here there is no standard to see if you "did it right". Maybe that is what was scary????
They say learning happens somewhere between the comfort zone and the panic zone- so perhaps we need to be motivated enough to go beyond what we know and courageous enough to take action in the face of what we don't know.
I will continue to experiment with these abstracts and see where it leads. Don't worry I haven't given up on my more realistic work, but I am using this as a way to further develop that work in possible new directions.
In the spirit of "no coincidences", I saw this posted today on Seth Godin's blog:
We're all born creative, it takes a little while to become afraid.
A surprising insight: an enemy of fear is creativity. Acting in a creative way generates action, and action persuades the fear to lighten up.
So if you feel some fear ( in art...or life) maybe the best thing is to jump right in and trust you will learn how to swim. It might even be fun and freeing! And what's the worst that will happen. You use some art supplies. Consider it an investment in your education and development.