Monday, September 15, 2008

Revisiting artist block

Today I decided I want to re-visit the subject of artist block, perhaps I was a bit glib with my get-back-to-nature viewpoint earlier. As an artist I do truly understand how agonizing a blank canvas can be when you've lost your point of view. And I do think that concept and artist block go hand in hand.

I guess I want to quantify that I'm not an expert on anything really, but I am a working artist that has figured a few things out. If you want to learn about marketing I'm not the person that has the answers...but there is a ton of good advice out there for the googling. 

What I can do is share what I've learned, both in technique and angst. Art and artist evolve together and one day it will click into place. Despite a money driven world there's still a purity in the fact that something you created is appreciated (and even loved) by others and after all, isn't that the point? 
Artists see things in a unique way, and in the beginning sets about to share that viewpoint in imagery. Of course, usually that's where the frustration sets in...a beginner's skill set may show promise but cannot truly convey meaning unless they know how to bring out the best in their medium. A long journey of learning technique then begins, but it's very easy to lose the original intent along the way. 

Oh, we artists know the angst of that's a huge part of the reason we end up with artist's block. Even if we have done work that is consistently good technique wise, we are still not we work even harder on technique. 

But that is not the answer. 

What is wrong is that the work you are doing feels stale. It may be a good painting of children playing on a beach, or a wonderful lifelike portrait or a superb three dimensional rendition of an animal. But what makes it stand out from all the other work out there of the same type subjects?

It comes back to viewpoint. You can't paint/sculpt things just to make things. You paint/sculpt to show something beyond the 'thing'. What you need to paint is emotion, your emotion. 

Joy. Fear. Contentment. Wonder. Entrancement with a certain mysterious smile. The human form in all its glory or weakness. Nature at its most stunning.

You say you don't know how? That is what you need to figure out to take a chosen subject and not just re-create it but totally create it as something new. 

My way was to create a new character...and the sole purpose of that character is to express the things I want to share... joy, simple pleasure and humanity (even though they are not human). That was my answer, but look at others...Michelangelo put his sculptures on steroids, Picasso went cubist and Monet went Impressionistic. 

You don't have to invent a new character or art style but you do have to bring creativity back into the picture. Quit staring at the blank canvas or wondering what to paint next. Do a test piece for the heck of doesn't can throw it away, put it on hold for how ever long and you don't have to show anyone. 

Pick a subject that you've enjoyed doing in the past. Stop there....don't pull out your canvas/medium yet. Say you like doing portraits, like I did. Do you really just want to paint/sculpt a face on a body? I'm sure you want to share personality of the subject, but you also want to put yourself into do you put your feeling in there? Thats where your creativity comes in. 

I wish I could just give you the answer, but I can only put my own creativity in my own work. You need to find not just the subject's emotion but your own and then you have to figure out how to marry them into the finished piece. Find your own original viewpoint from way back when you first wanted to paint/sculpt/draw. You may not find the answer first time out but I've learned that once a journey is begun it finds its own path in the end. Think about what you might need to exaggerate or minimize...will props help convey something? It's a puzzle but you truly are the only one that can solve it...and you will.

 Don't look at it as pressure, the world doesn't just want a piece of artwork, they want a piece of you...and that is the true value. Be excited because you are about to meet yourself and the rest of us can't wait to meet you through your work too.

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