Thursday, November 24, 2022

Residency in Truro, MA

 My residency at Truro Center for the Arts in October resulted in some new directions, and new thoughts about my work and processes. That is exactly what I'd hoped to get out of it. 

I developed a practice of making studies, or ├ętudes, as a kind of warm-up exercise. Read about that in the previous post. Drawing from life and from photographs also crept into my practice, like something basic and essential. I have considered how introducing a recognizable subject into my otherwise abstract paintings might give me a broader capacity for expression. I don't know, but it is something to explore. So far, these house-shape elements, or 'fishing stages', or barns, are in a few pieces.


 I also explored scribbles, for their own sake to see if I had something to say in this vocabulary. Here are a few examples. Perhaps I'll write more on that at some point.

Line of Fire #3, 18"x24", acrylic and drawing on paper

Under the Wire #1, 18"x24", acrylic and drawing on paper

 

Here is the Real Takeaway

Though I've been examining this idea periodically for a couple of years, it was my time in Truro that allowed a new level of understanding (though it is still a work in progress): I let imagined expectations of other people get in my way. Imaginary or hypothetical people, not real ones. Here are a few of the voices:

Is this new idea consistent with work that people have already seen? 

Does it make some visual sense to them in terms of my previous work (or work that has sold or been shown)? 

Will it look good? Will it stand out? Will it grab the viewer? Does it look like art?

No matter how much I embrace the idea/knowledge that I make my best work when following my own inner urges and curiosities, it is VERY difficult to let go of the urge to please or impress others. I want my work to find 'success' and approval in the world outside the studio. Is that so bad? My guess is that it is perfectly normal and serves a real function. The problem comes when those 'outer' voices - the imagined expectations of others - start telling me how and what to paint.

I am trying to identify the questions and assumptions that may be getting in my way. They are the voices I let in without knowing it. My task now is to identify these culprits so that I can recognize them and put them in their place.

I'd love to know if you experience this struggle between inner curiosity and outer voices, or imagined expectations of others. Please comment.