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 études, 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.

10 comments:

  1. I'm always reassured when someone of your experience and artistic vision wonders if "looks like art".

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    1. I think I have all the doubts that any artist has. My hope is that by voicing them it will 'normalize' them to others. They ARE normal. Maybe not to men, who tend to Know What They Are Doing. But in art if you Know What You Are Doing every time, then you probably are not pushing yourself as much as you could.

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    2. 'Normalize' is such a good and important verb. I'm always glad to be reminded - by Jane, by Louise Fletcher, by others who I tune into - that all artists, even little 'ol me, struggle with doubts and all the rest of it. We're quite normal, that way, even if our artistic expressions per se are different. We are not 'terminally unique' humans, we're much more alike than we are different. This is a source of comfort for me!

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  2. Oh, those voices! The paintings I create when I'm listening to the committee inside my head are always the ones that get painted over later on--sometimes more than once if there's a subcommittee involved. It's such a glorious (and frightening!) moment when I tune them all out and let the 'real' painting happen.

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    1. I love your term "committee inside my head"! That's perfect. The challenge (for me) is to recognize when the committee is in session, and send them on vacation while I paint.

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    2. Oh yes, the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee

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  3. That damaging self-talk is most obvious just before I work on something. A personal goal is to make something 'good', and by that I mean something that arrests the viewer's attention, makes them want to linger and just be part of the interaction between viewer and work. But I've found that when it's 'good', it's by accident, not intent. I could post a lot more about this topic!

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  4. hi Jane, i have taken classes from you in the past and really got so much out of them. i am fully aware of the inner dialogue, which limits me. sometimes i like the limits. as in my head will explode if i consider all the options of the next step. or can i diverge completely from what i am doing to just play with representational work? limits. hmm. can't live with them, can't live without them. like your idea of limits that are hidden from view. as in the art journey it is a life journey. and being brutally honest with ourselves is an ongoing challenge. not sure if i have gone down the wrong rabbit hole with your post or not. but whatever! thoughts are a funny thing. if you care to see what i have worked on post jane daives: karenpiehl.wordpress.com

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  5. Absolutely! I can completely relate. When I am authentically true to my inner voice I'm satisfied with the end result. But my question at the moment is if it doesn't sell does my artwork still hold value. Great questions Jane.

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  6. Exactly what I am going through right now. How far can I go before people will think I've gone crazy. As much as I try to reach new work, it still looks like same-ole, same-ole to me.

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