I Want to be Like That
...so what do I do about it?
We are hard on ourselves often, it seems to me. I am, anyway, hard on myself often. Hardest is when I succumb to comparisons.
I saw two artists yesterday who are doing what I want to do. Except I am not them. Alas. Alas.
One had huge buckets of paint and was skillfully putting large quantities of color on large canvases, enjoying the dripping and the bigness of it all. Her work is expressive and bold and both contemporary and universal in appeal. She is winning things with her work, and it brings good money. To pay for her big cans of paint. I want to do that.
Also I followed up a gentle painting I saw on the internet done by a man who is teaching at a college right nearby, and I liked what I saw so much I contacted him! As I looked, the other works were not quite what I loved so much, but that one image was such a beauty. Full of the gentle color work and sensitive line and perfectly marvelous composition of positive and negative shapes. I want to do that.
I put my head down and painted on a work that dates from the 90's when I had my big studio and had models come periodically for a group of us to share for a morning and an afternoon. There is a model who is also a dancer, performer and artist who knows exactly what will get the creative juices rolling for a bunch of artists. He danced some of his poses...paused just a minute and changed the pose. I used a large prepared paper and drew each successive pose with pastels of different colors, resulting in a nice sense of movement and grace with added interest in figuring out which arm goes on which leg. Except for the color, it would be hard to tell. Even with the color, some of the movements are ambiguous.
I think it's a very fun piece to let your eyes play on. I have moved from pastel to using oil paints and added texture to the flat background. I painted stripes and have layered bright and neutral colors...it gives a theatrical suggestion. Now I am wondering whether to put in a spotlight, breaking somewhere around the lower body(s) and causing color effects on the legs, and a suggestion of perspective to the floor. It is not finished.. and it is one that may end up sitting again as it has been doing all these years. Waiting.
I play with my art on the computer to try things out. One program makes drastic things happen that get my brain active when I'm burning out. The spotlight effect is nice, but I'm not sure I want to actually do that to my painting. But why not?
Well, I want my painting to be good. I'm afraid it might not be. I want it to be sure and strong and subtle like those other artists' work I enjoyed today. I want it all.
I decided that tomorrow I would decide if I did anything good.
I woke up today pondering again ... looking...finding what I liked. Not so sure whether to make that spotlight.
Hard on me, this stuff. Comparison is not a friend. So how do you quit?
Here is what I did instead.
I took another painting I did a while ago, a painting of a person I have strong feelings about and long history with, and I worked on it tonight.
Last time I worked on it I was trying to make a sort of fiendish oddness happen. But in spite of my intentions, it just turned out to be friendly. Nice, but not really what was my intention. I may have been afraid to hurt this person's feelings, in a way.
Tonight I went ahead with it. I put some strong color and pulled some character out of it. I'm liking that painting now, and may be able to put it together well enough to frame up and show. It is no longer about that person any more, but more about me. I am making that painting my own statement whether it is friendly or not. It seems to continue to be friendly! But that is fine now...the painting has quit pushing me around.
I think there is a lesson there. If I am looking at someone else's art and wanting to do that, it is about the other person. What I need to be working toward is doing work that expresses my own journey... no one else's.