The Wonder of Art – Josh Goldberg – Ep 37
July 6, 2022
ON TODAY’S EPISODE
Art-making doesn’t have to look any particular way. Anything goes. What we make and how we make it is really of no importance except, of course, to the artist. There can be so much pressure to figure it all out. So it makes sense that most want to create some degree of certainty in this nebulous art-making thing. I gave up figuring out my art quite a few years ago. I finally accepted that maybe everything would work out if I kept making my art and paid attention.
So today, I no longer plan what I am doing in the studio and instead show up and surprise myself. Recently I came across some paintings I just loved. I felt the artist’s art process was similar to mine, so I became curious. I could tell there wasn’t a lot of pre-planning going on. The result was too fresh and daring.
So I tracked the artist down. His name is Josh Goldberg. He is a poet, artist, and teacher. Listening to how he describes his approach and creative philosophy was mesmerizing. I had to relisten to this conversation so I could take notes. It was that good. Join me now as Josh and I are meeting for the first time.
Listen if you are interested in…
- Getting to know Josh Goldberg [2:08]
- Making the transition from art student to career artist and the logistics of Josh’s art practice [5:02]
- Creating art that creates wonder [8:56]
- Exploring the juxtaposition of freedom and control and the magic of art-making [15:16]
- Learning how to color outside the lines and examining innate creativity [22:16]
- Josh discusses the specifics of his art-making toolbox [25:40]
- Why Josh never gets stuck [28:02]
- The necessity of looking inward and self-exploration [30:43]
- The role guidance plays in Josh’s art practice and the fear of being repetitive [36:31]
- How Josh handels commissioned pieces [40:57]
- Josh’s advice for artists trying to go deeper in their work [43:01]
Art has been a part of Josh’s life since he was very young. All Josh’s mother needed was a pack of crayons and a cozy corner to hold his attention. Initially, Josh went to a tech college because his parents didn’t want him to go to art school. That was until his teachers saw his creative talent and told him he was wasting his time pursuing anything else. After putting together a portfolio, Josh got into what is now the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, where he graduated with a degree in fine art.
Being an art student is one thing, but being a full-time artist is another world entirely. Making the transition from school to the studio can be a daunting one. Especially when the only clear assignment is to go into a room and make something so that you can sell it and pay for your life. Josh’s big piece of advice for this stage of the journey is to simply keep making your art. Trust yourself and your creativity. Something will happen when the time is right, if you stay faithful to your art practice.
Learn to let go
Every artist has their own unique creative flow. In order to stay fresh and engaged, Josh constantly switches between materials and mediums during the art-making process. He starts by doing multiple canvas paintings until he feels like he’s peaked. Then he moves to painting on paper until that feeling of fulfillment strikes again. Then it’s on to drawing. Then drawing turns into printing and so on and so forth. Josh rides this creative cycle until he arrives back at his original medium.
One reason Josh loves this style of art-making is because he never wants to repeat himself. He wants every piece he creates to be different while maintaining his signature style and marks. It’s easy to create art like that when we learn to let go. When I was younger, I was much more controlling when it came to my art. I’d plan my pieces to try and produce a predictable result, but the further I progress in my journey, the more I realize how little you can plan and how much you have to just start.
When your art stares back
Have you ever felt that some marks on the canvas feel more significant than others? It can even feel like we are taking part in something bigger than ourselves. Most people talk about art in terms of seeing and feeling. However, Josh views art as a form of knowing. He doesn’t see his art as being representational, but rather presentational. Meaning that the work reveals something to Josh relating to himself, humanity, or the universe as a whole, and he presents that revelation with whatever materials he has at the time.
Josh defines his art focus with the self-coined phrase “imagophany” or “the appearance of an image”. He’s fascinated by where the image comes from and what truths it may hold. In that pursuit, Josh allows the work to unfold without trying to find the meaning before it’s finished. Time has taught him that the work will speak to him on its own terms. It can’t be rushed. Josh knows he’s finished creating when he stares at the work and he feels it staring back. When it starts to develop a sense of presence and gravitas that stops you in your tracks. I was surprised to learn that the Greeks had a word for this concept, “thauma”, which roughly translates to marvel or wonder in English. We should all strive to create art that produces this sense of wonder in everyone who gazes at it. Most importantly, within ourselves. Listen to this episode to hear more of Josh’s art-making insights!
Connect with Josh Goldberg
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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.