Sunday, 18 March 2018

Process: The Journey is More Important than the Destination

Although I'm trying not to think about the process in the moment of doing, I am also experimenting with it so some thought is unavoidable.  It seems clear to me that the looseness I desire is impeded by thought and by too much trying to make a 'thing'.  Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I am still experimenting with just how abstract ( or not ) I want my images to be.

These two pieces look similar but were created slightly differently.  The first received the colour blocks first and had lines added later, while the second had the lines drawn first with colour added to the different sections and then blended.  Does the difference even matter?  Different viewers will have different opinions.  I'm just trying to find the method that most appeals to me and give me what I want to achieve.

The blue and yellow-green piece above began as something inspired by the view out my window, but as soon as I felt that I was trying to re-create  it I lost my momentum.  I began to pause and fret over whether or not I was getting it right.  So I deliberately drew lines all over it to obscure any resemblance it had to a seascape.  It went through a stage where I hated it and thought it was quite ugly.  And then, I peeled off the tape, held it up and looked again and I liked it.

Life is sometimes like this.  We make messes, make things ugly and then look again, realise there is something there we didn't see the first time.

As I play with process, I am exploring how I like to combine line and colour.  Do I want to make the lines first and then colour them, do I want to put down colour and later add line?  Do I want to do it differently each time?

In the case of this picture I ended up obscuring the lines.  I drew them first, and began filling in the spaces and shapes with colour but as I worked I didn't like it.  It was too precise and planned.  I smudged and blurred and added more and more colour in layers, wondering if I was over-working and making mud.  I kept going.  Eventually I obscured the lines made first with black pastel and charcoal, and ended up with this.  Jim says it reminds him of aurora borealis which is what I thought myself when I was part way through it.  My camera isn't capturing the colours accurately-there is more green in it overall.

Exploring the pastel is fun but quite messy and there is a great deal of dust to clean up.  The pastels in pans are meant to be less dusty and I think they are though I haven't got many colour options yet so I am also using my sticks which do create a lot of dust.  

What have I learned about my own preferences so far?  Mostly that black pastel makes a better line on top of coloured pastel than charcoal does.  Everything else is still about playing and I've not made any decisions.  Maybe I won't. Maybe variety is important.  Maybe it's all about what suits my mood or what gets me to the place I wish to go.

Some say art imitates life but it's not about the image representing life, it's about the process of art being just like the process of life.  Getting messy and just trying things is where the fun is and where the learning is.  Sometimes it turns out better than I thought, sometimes it's a bit disappointing, but if I step back there is always something to learn.  Sometimes it's good to plan a little, sometimes it's not.  The process that works in one situation doesn't work in another.  There are options.  There is personal preference involved.  There is always something worthwhile to be found in the ugliness.

I can't tell you that I only learn by doing.  That's not true.  I read, I look around me, I observe others, I observe the world, I think, I ponder, I dive in and try and then I step back and consider what I have learned and what to try next.  Perhaps we all approach art in the same way we approach life.  My way is not the way of every artist.  Copying me may be just right for you or it may not.  I offer it up for whatever it is worth to you.

1 comment:

  1. These pastels do look very interesting. I will need to get back to give them another look, my brain is a bit tired right now and refuses to make sense of things. I haven't tried working with pastels myself, maybe because I'm afraid of it being messy...but all art is messy really. I love reading what you wrote about art and about the process of making art.


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