Friday, December 17, 2010
Original oil painting 18x14"
by Susan Roux
Where has your art journey taken you?
I was reading Kevin Mizner's post this morning and he talked about the artist's journey, well mostly his own... He made the statement, "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know, and how much more there is to know."
Wow. Now there's a loaded statement and it's so true.
Think back when you first started. Didn't you think painting was easy? Do you think you'd have started to paint if you'd actually known how far you had to go? It's one of those totally frustrating things. Like a cartoon mirage. Remember that desert oasis? You see where you want to go and you work towards it only to find when you get there, you're not there at all. You have a long way to journey still.
Art is one of those things that as soon as you get comfortable settling in or accepting your level of achievement as the final end, your work suddenly turns into formula painting and it automatically slips in reverse. Think about that for a minute...
I know you know artists who've done that exact thing. I won't mention any names, but even some of the greats of today have fallen prey to that terrible trap. The artists journey is one without an end. The desire to strive for improvement must remain throughout your life. Look at Monet. He pushed himself to the very end. Even blind, he continued to paint. Just before he lost his vision (those nasty chemicals. I hope you're taking precautions to protect yourself...) is when he did his best work. Why? Why were his nympheas so magnificent? He'd spent a lifetime pushing himself. He never settled into a comfortable place where he accepted his level of achievement.
I remember several years ago studying about color. I began to understand color at a level I didn't know existed. How wonderful to have your eyes opened anew to a subject that already excites you tremendously! Who would have known there was more? I certainly didn't. I floated around wanting to explode with joy and had no one to describe my new discovery to.
I've been trapped at a fairly stagnant level for a few years. Yes, there were some paintings that rose above the others, but mostly my work had flatlined. I didn't stop pushing. It seemed futile, but oddly something inside me kept telling me there was more. I listened. I was frustrated. I'd get discouraged. Still I pushed on believing there was more and if I continued trying, I'd achieve it. Now, just like the deeper knowledge of color that opened my eyes a few years back, I feel equipped with a new understanding of grays. Yes, I said grays.
I know it sounds dumb. Insignificant grays are anything but insignificant...
Suddenly I'm exploring like a child let loose in a giant toy store! Seriously, it's that kind of excitement. There is more too. A renewed realization that we aren't just portraying an image, but painting poetry, a passion, a vision of more than just objects. Suddenly I'm finding my work moving forward. I'm thrilled I never stopped pushing. Though the lulls are discouraging, the triumphs are exhilarating enough to compensate. I just want to explode on canvas.
I feel equipped with new tools of understanding and my journey continues. I know these new tools will take me forward for awhile. Forward in improvement, I hope. But I also know that in time it will flatline again. It's the journey. If I'm to be all I can be in this line of work, I know I mustn't ever get too comfortable. Luckily, though frustrating at times, it's also the excitement that drives me ever forward.
Don't you just love knowing it'll always be exciting? There'll always be more to learn and develop.
Have you fallen into the formula trap? It can be a tough rut to climb out of. May the new year ahead jolt you enough to push you out of your comfort zone and propel you forward in your journey. Allow yourself to be renewed in that childlike excitement of discovery. Don't stop pushing yourself. The rewards will amaze you.
Posted is the finished Gardner's Home. It was painted with a class, drying completely between sessions. I may revisit this scene on my own when I can paint wet on wet. I'd be interested to see the different results. I posted this work in progress on Oct. 29. Oddly it was the post where I introduced Kevin Mizner to you. I'm just noticing that. I wonder if that means anything?