Just like life, my art practice can be unpredictable. It’s nothing profound or weird yet to me it feels like a new day. I made a radical decision a few weeks ago as the spring fine art show approached. It happened as a whisper that sneaks into my quiet early morning art practice and although it really caught me off guard I knew in that instant that it was true.
I have decided that for at least the next 6 months, I am shifting my focus away from making “sellable” art and committing to a deeper exploration of my art practice. There was a lot to unpack with this decision and I was full of questions with few answers so I am taking the time to answer those questions. I know when I started painting there was play and curiosity but I was very much in the “ I have to learn from someone else what to do, take a course, how to make someone else’s art”. I doodled and played with my materials, but I never tracked or kept anything in those early days and I certainly didn’t journal what I was feeling. I have a few digital images but dumped most of it along the way. In the last few months, I have stumbled across a few new podcasts lately that raised the questions of:
“how much time do I dedicate to play in your studio”.
“do I pay attention to the visual aspects of mark making; do I play with those marks, to understand them better
“do I know why something is attractive to me”
“do I know what something turns me off?”
“do I use different materials to develop what I like?”
“is there something else that I want to try?”
These are just a few of the topics that have been coming up. If you read my last blog, you know I started a much anticipated online workshop Creative Shift with Sally-Anne Ashley. In a nut shell, its a deep dive into the whys of my art practice, with thought provoking assignments to dig deep into the process of my art and through journaling, we slowly discover who we are and what we need from our practice and what we need to grown within our practice.
Now maybe this course has given me a reason/excuse to take this break (but do I need a reason?) but I believe I owe it to myself to follow through with my decision and this 10 week course is part of that decision. During these 10 weeks I am basically working in my art journal and on loose paper pages while journaling my thoughts and processes in response to the assignments. Sound heavy? It is, but in a gently thought provoking way. I’m sure I will make pieces on canvas to develop some ideas further but selling wont be my focus. What was a surprise to me that once I said the words out loud I felt like a weight and a pressure had been lifted from me that I didn’t know was there! I was and continue to be surprised by how I felt. How long have I been feeling this way? How could I not be aware of these feelings? Would I have heard this feeling if I hadn’t been on this introspective course? possibly. Would I have pushed through to make stuff that wasn’t feeling right (more than likely)?
Early in my art practice I decided I wanted to be a landscape painter, and once that decision was made I felt like couldn’t go back. I worked at it with some pockets of sellable success but I feel like I didn’t develop how to interpret what I see so that it is meaningful to me. I’ve made beautiful pieces ( my Mississippi Sunset series) in those early days. I know now what I was searching for was how to recreate how I was feeling but and didn’t have the visual language to do it consistently. In my giant aha moment last year, I literally stopped in my tracks and took in this piece of information. I didn’t have the answers but I am starting to understand it now.
I was shocked to see last week that I have written 77 pages in an A4 notebook! Pages and pages of thoughts and notes, processes and failures, even more pages about my art practice that I had never put into words before. To say it’s been helpful is an understatement!! The current week six has been the most challenging week so far and I am meeting with a ton of resistance and that’s ok, I’m my resistance I am finding my way.
As May draws to a close and with my decision to focus developing my art practice rather than spending time painting scenes that I think might sell (because I’ve proven to myself over and over that it doesn’t work), I am feeling pretty hopeful. I am grateful that I heard that whisper and I am proud of myself for following through on the idea. I am also thankful to have found Creative Shift. Thanks for joining me on my artistic evolution !Have a great month everyone!