I recently posted a painting on Facebook. It was one of those posts that you kind of cringe as you post because it was in a stage that I didn’t like. I had a tough time with this painting and at the end of the day I pretty much had just a big grey mess. It was one of those days I get paint all over myself. There is wet paint everywhere. I even get paper towels stuck to the bottom of my shoes and because I am so impatient, I won’t stop and deal with it. I just want to keep painting–I know I should stop and move to another one, but I don’t. I just keep hammering away at it hoping like a madman that I will suddenly get different results by doing the same thing. I never do and I didn’t this time either.
So I posted this painting on Facebook and said something to the effect that I was a bit lost here and that hopefully tomorrow I could figure it out.
I didn’t feel too good about posting this ugly painting but that’s what I made and sometimes the actual act of posting something, seeing it in a different light gives you more information. And this really has helped me.
So much so that I am beginning to realize that I am now integrating the process of sharing what I am doing -mostly on Facebook everyday when I am painting, but also with the people who happen to walk by my studio doorway. I used to be much more solitary, and I certainly didn’t encourage visitors. Somehow sharing your work, or even talking about it separates it from your self, not to mention the huge benefit of seeing and commenting on others work. That is such a nice break from your own movie.
When the thing you are trying to make gets to exist in another form – in this case, a 4 or 5-inch square Facebook post, or even a verbal description of it, then you can see it in a new fresh light. It takes on a level of objectivity that the original object sitting there next to you in your studio day after day does not have. Having even a few people see and comment can shift your perceptions. Rarely, or I would have to say never actually, are my concerns or the flaws I perceive in my work the thing that is even mentioned by others. Many of the comments I receive are from fellow artists. I have learned a tremendous amount from other people, but especially this idea that what I perceive as important or flawed in a painting is not what others perceive. It just leads me to reason that if I am circumscribing my painting to be a certain way, maybe it is possible to let go a little bit of how I perceive it is supposed to turn out. I notice that as I make work I definitely think about past work and how it turned out a certain way and that this piece too should follow the same course. I can see how this thinking can possibly limit the potentiality of new work.
Sometimes the comments of others will point out something more interesting, something that might have more possibilities in it for the future than even I imagined. Maybe we just need to get out of our own way. And maybe the way to do this is to share a little bit of what we are doing with others.
It might not take a village to make an engaging arc of work but it is nice knowing they are right outside the studio door, especially if you don’t close it all the way.
And again, thank you for your comments,
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.