AN ARTIST CHOOSES (Part Three)
"Trying to create can feel risky; but not trying is completely a no win."
I have decided (chosen) what my concept for this next series of pieces will be: the ego self vs. the authentic self and the battle that rages inside all of us to sort this out and hopefully come out ahead. The work will be a depiction of the internal dance between oneself and one's spirit.
Now, how do I possibly go about depicting this idea visually so that the work speaks to the theme, is aesthetically beautiful, is fun for me to create, challenges me, is something I can live with, and engages and challenges the viewer?
I have put extra pressure on myself because these are the pieces that I will be exhibiting ay my first museum show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in January of 2014. So, of course, I want them to be spectacular and amazing.
Whoa pardner! Slow down. One step at a time. Breathe. Relax.
Of course, if you know me and my art, you will also know that I want to focus on the angst, the mystery and the inner secrets involved in this dance (or battle) . I want these pieces to be dark and edgy, however, I also want them to be beautiful and accessible. Not scary and intimidating.
This theme feels a bit risky to me. Like it could get kind of personal. Which it probably will over time, as I dig deeper and deeper into the self (my self) during the making of these pieces. I decide that I must detach from the outcome in order to reduce the risk, or more accurately, the fear. This is nothing new for artists and we all do it, or should, anytime we try something new and seemingly risky. If risk scares you, you must push that fear aside and create the work anyway. We must be willing to go into the unknown if we are to do our most real work.
It may be scary, but then again, it may not. So far, I have found that tackling this new theme and beginning to create some actual art about it, has not been as scary as I thought it was going to be. Hardly ever is, once you actually start the process.
ACTION QUIETS FEAR.
So, I decided to just start creating. Put charcoal to paper. What "felt right" was to do some charcoal drawings on paper to start working some things out. These are some of the drawings that you see in the above photo. These drawings allowed me to try things, experiment, explore, find out what works and what doesn't work and what I like and don't like. The drawings, up to this point, are done mostly in charcoal with a little bit of gesso, black acrylic paint, and black and white spray paint. I chose to work in black and white so as not to be distracted by color and so I could focus on the "look" of the drawings. I love black and white anyway and I am seriously considering doing the entire series in black and white and "shades of gray". Hmmm??
I am working on paper, not only because I love to work on paper and feel more free to experiment on it, but also because of the fragility and vulnerability of paper which I think speaks to the theme.
I have chosen to use the female form because of its emotional quality and ability to reveal and convey that emotion. I just never seem to be able to draw an emotionally charged male form. My hope is that the figures will become less overtly female and more anthropomorphic over time (or more of a hybrid between a male and female form). Much of my work in the past has gone this way, but for now, the female form is allowing me to get into the work and explore the emotional aspects of it. The figures in these pieces will also be nude to further suggest vulnerability, defenselessness and fragility.
I want to try and create figures with perceptible emotional qualities even without clear delineation of facial features or details. As I begin to work on the drawings, I decide that the heads should be in dark silhouette and, for the most part, looking down. My hope is that this will convey "looking inward" and emphasize the mystery. If facial features do show up at some point, I will most likelyfocus on the eyes which will be closed to depict "self-reflection".
I have been looking at a lot of Edvard Munch reproductions lately for inspiration. He uses long hair on the women in his paintings very symbolically. Hair seems to have a life of its own, often times reaching out to entangle or entrap their male counterparts. I have decided to explore the idea of using hair in my pieces, not only as an abstract, design element, but also as a shroud which somewhat hides the figure. I do not know where this is going yet.
Because of all the experimenting, stops and starts, trying things, changes of mind and exploration that have gone on so far in these drawings, more than one figure started to emerge in the same drawing. At first, I thought I was just making a mess and then I had an "aha moment". I realized that multiple figures were just what these pieces needed. Since I am trying to depict a battle, a struggle, or a dance if you will, multiple figures seemed right. Upon more reflection of what I had just discovered, I realized that I was not depicting multiple figures at all. I was actually depicting the same figure battling, struggling and dancing with itself as it attempts to sort out its ego from its authentic self.
OK. Wow! This was a big realization for me.
I now think I have some visual parameters to work with.
I have done ten drawings so far. I really loved working on them. I think I will continue to create more drawings even as I begin attempting some larger mixed media pieces. More on these as they develop. Truth be told, I am actually inspired and motivated to try some life size drawings on paper.
I could have thought about what I wanted to do with these drawings until I was blue in the face, however, it was not until I began to put charcoal to paper that my ideas started to manifest themselves visually. Then and only then was I able to actually see what was in my mind and begin to experiment, explore, try things, make adjustments and most importantly make some new discoveries about the work to come.
After you experience the flash of a new idea, get to work on it as soon as possible. Do not keep the idea in your head too long. Better yet, do not paint or draw the idea in your mind because when you actually create the piece for real, it will never look like what you painted in your mind. In your mind you can create a piece in a straight line, start to finish. However, when you are actually working on canvas or paper, the piece will take all kinds of right and left turns as you try something, change your mind, realize that the color you just mixed and applied doesn't work, draw something and decide that you can do it better or countless other things that can happen during the making of a piece.
In AN ARTIST CHOOSES (Part Four) I will talk about the process of putting charcoal to paper and discuss many of the choices, both mentally and physically, an artist faces while actually creating.