For the past two months I have been taking time to really think about exactly what it is I want to do as an artist. Most of the time I feel like I am floundering around in the wake of everything that has already been done artistically.
There’s a direct correlation between art and music and I think musicians have to go through the same type of thing that I am feeling as an artist before they can find their unique sound. It’s easy to sound like everyone else, but the challenge is to not be so influenced by others that you end up drowning in a sea of familiarity and noise (this is different than finding inspiration from other musicians and artists. Inspiration can turn into a stronger influence, but it doesn’t have to).
Then there’s the temptation to create or sound the way you think others will accept or like. In other words, playing it safe in order to appeal to a certain audience. I can’t allow what others may think to dictate the way I express myself through my artwork. I understand that my art will not be for everyone and I am still trying to find my audience (or maybe I should say I am trying to get my audience to find me).
I am also looking for more glimpses of the clarity and freedom I have occasionally felt in my artwork throughout the years, and then trying to replicate those feelings into each new piece.
This brings me to yesterday when I realized that my paintings need to be more tactile. I have never felt more alive than when I was throwing pottery. I love everything about the process (from dust, to clay, to stoneware) and I think part of it has to do with the direct contact between my hands and the clay. I just don’t get the same sensory fulfillment from painting with a brush. There’s too much distance between me and my work.
Therefore, I am opening myself up to finding possibilities that I never knew existed (while thinking more tangibly). I am using things like string and tissue paper on canvas and blending paint with my fingers instead of brushes.
I also decided to look for some mediums that I loved using in the past. What jumped out at me yesterday was remembering how much I loved pastels and charcoal. Again, it goes back to touch. Blending pastels with my fingers feels natural and gives me more control over my work.
While I wish I would have done all of this artistic exploration and experimentation sooner, I don’t consider any of this to be a waste of time. In fact, it’s quite fun. And while I hope to find myself as an artist somewhere along the way, I never want the experimentation to end.
“Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney