Whatever it means, I'm pretty sure it doesn't happen overnight
Lately I’ve been hearing quite a bit about this or that artist having the potential to “grow”. What does that even mean, anyway? That said, it made me wonder whether I’ve grown as an artist myself.
Take the case of this one artist, who I don’t know personally. (Forgive me if you’ve heard this one.) I was speaking to a certain gallery manager (who was also an artist) not too long ago, and this manager was telling me about how this particular artist seemed to be fixated on a certain insect.
My art and my ‘other job’ overlap in a lot of ways. For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m also a writer ~ the kind that works at ad agencies, marketing departments and media (the publishing and broadcast kind).
I guess this overlap can’t be helped in that creativity is a requirement for both ~ admittedly, maybe not as much for some of the companies I’ve worked for. So I guess it also can’t be helped that my other job gets talked about here on the jillablog, like how I wrote about what happened with my ad agency co-workers once.
Some dozen odd years ago I was attending some Asian artists’ conference in Singapore, and I remember asking someone what made something (art) liked by everybody. By ‘everybody’ I meant everyone, everywhere in every time (age, era, century). ‘Like Shakespeare,’ I remember saying. The person I asked remarked laconically, ‘Not everybody likes Shakespeare.’
After a stupefied pause to consider the justice of that remark I attempted to explain, ‘Sure they do. I mean, the guy’s been dead a bazillion years and people still like his stuff.’ It was toward the end of the day at the time and we were on the beach, so, I don’t remember getting an answer back. But to this day, I find myself still asking.
What is it about Will’s stuff that makes people still stage it, watch it, quote it~ or Wolfie’s stuff or stuff from Vinnie, Leo or Remy? Or, closer to (my) home, what is it about the Noli or the Spoliarium (or pretty much anything by Amorsolo) that make them live on today?
Maybe it’s that time of the year ~ you know, when people get all *existentialist* looking back and trying to plan for the year ahead.
It’s just, personally I wonder whether any of my stuff is going to survive me a bazillion years from now. Or (as is the more likely), join the heap of Salieris that lived alongside Wolfie and ultimately disappeared into oblivion. (That actually isn’t fair, I mean they did use Salieri’s music in the first Iron Man movie ^^)
Or, more to the point: Is it worth making anything when you know they’re going to toss it all into the nearest landfill as soon as you become worm food? (Hopefully they at least recycle the wood and glass ~ or even the paper.) Are these questions even worth asking?
I put key relationships I've had with people (and then some) into a blender and this is what I poured out ^^
Seona is a German artist I met in art class who specialises in hyper-realistic oil portraits and whom I somehow managed to stay in touch with after we both *got out of school*.
Recently I discovered she’s begun to explore relationships in her portraits, specifically those between old friends. It reminded me very much of Claudia, this other German artist who painted a picture of a friend of hers who (if I remember correctly) wasn’t her friend, anymore. I think I only saw that canvas of Claudia’s once but I never forgot it.
A guy in one of my favourite forever movies put an ad in the paper trying to put a band together. As soon as each prospective band member showed up at his door, he’d ask, ‘Who are your influences?’
I think only God is capable of creating from absolute scratch, and all of us have influences on our creative processes, many, if not most of which lie outside of the ‘art world’ itself.
So I’m not here to talk about other artists (I already did that in my last post, lol) or movements, but the other things that might go into your ‘blender’, mainly by talking about what goes into mine.
Okay, so this is me writing about something I ought to be doing right about now (indeed, something I should’ve been doing late last year)—and God willing, I will be. But having done this more than a dozen times before, hopefully gives me enough to share on the subject of how to go about planning a set or a series of works, or for a show.
Again, I can really only speak from my own experience because I’m well aware that what works for one artist may not necessarily work for another. There’s no single, correct way when it comes to creation, I think (although red + yellow will never be green, I think, no matter how much of either you mix in).
Some people are averse to planning, and would much rather just ‘let it flow’. Me being the control freak I am, I tend to plan, not just because I’m a control freak but also because I have limited resources—time and energy being the most limited of all. So, I just like to try and make the most of them.
I do like to ‘figure things out when I get there’ while I’m working (because that’s… the fun part) and there are some things, I think, you really can’t pre-figure out, otherwise. But for me I do that sort of ‘on the fly’ stuff within a prepared structure. (Control freak, remember?) And also, there are other things you can’t plan, because, well, life happens.
That said, here are five things to consider when planning for an exhibit or creating a series of works—at least, the things I’ve had to consider, in general.
One of the gazillion nice things about art (or about people, if you like) is how no two artists (or people) think alike. It always used to amaze me back at art school how a bunch of people could be sitting in front of the same flowers or fruit or model and still come up with different things. Nobody ever painted or drew the subject in exactly the same way.
The thought process behind the production of art is different for everybody. There’s no, single, ‘correct’ way, if you will, to think of what to paint. In taking off from my previous entry on how reflecting on why you’re painting can help you come up with something to paint, this entry zeroes in on the actual how to think of something.
Like I said, even if you’re twins or very much in love, no two people are ever going to think exactly alike or conceptualise exactly the same painting. (Okay I take back the latter, as there may be grandfathered exceptions I am unaware of.)
So all I can offer here is how I go about it, in the hopes that it might give you some idea of how you could go about it, too. Especially if (continuing again from where my previous post left off), you’re doing No.13: You’re painting because you have a show.
Art is a mind game—so much of what happens when people make things takes place in their heads, even before any paint touches the paper or canvas. And like most things people can’t see, it’s much easier to look past them and to get caught up in the tangible.
A lot of people I’ve talked to over the years have said that they have trouble even just thinking of what to paint. And I’ve often replied that yes, thinking of what to paint is actually the hardest thing about the whole, thing—once you’ve gotten all that pesky ‘conceptualisation’ and planning out of the way, the rest is ‘just mechanics’.
(I mean of course it ISN’T, as ‘the mechanics’ are a whole different ballgame, but, you knew what I meant, I hope.)
In any case, I’ve given the matter a fair amount of thought and I think it all boils down to answering one simple question.