When Solitude Isn’t Enough
Most artists work in isolation. It’s necessary in order to focus on who we are and what we want to say in our art. But unless you bill yourself as a self-taught artist, there will be times when solitude isn’t enough.
Some of us are lucky to have spent some time in the company of other artists working side by side in a classroom, a residency, or shared studio space. This is a rewarding way to grow as an artist, because we absorb from each other much more than is immediately apparent. We even store things away for future reference, not realizing that we need them until later.
These nurturing environments allow us to share with one or two other artists a decision about how to proceed with a passage in a painting, listening politely to their advice and going ahead with what we were going to do anyway, or just sit for a half hour or so
studying staring at a piece we are working on without feeling pressured to talk at all. In real time, we gently suggest alternatives, question the use of a particular color or thickness of line, whether to abandon the whole thing and start fresh. These are the situations that teach us what constructive criticism means (and does not mean.)
Another great way to stay plugged in is to join or start a support/critique group of a few artists who can meet every so often to share a “show and tell” of recent work, residencies and workshops attended, shows to do, and other opportunities for artists. I miss that here in my new town and hope to start one here. It’s important that these groups be artists who have similar backgrounds but hopefully widely different styles, mediums, and approaches. They can be a mix of artists with degrees and those with no degree but plenty of life experience. The growth potential of this kind of group is invaluable.
There is no substitute for regular face time with other artists, and a distant second would be through social networking and blogs. I hope my blog gives little glimpses into the daily struggles of doing my art. I don’t pretend to know very much, and gladly share my areas of vulnerability. It’s how we all grow.
In that spirit, I’d like to share just one past link from this blog and also take a peek over the shoulders of some of my favorite artists who blog about their process and their thoughts about how and why they create. If you notice, you will see a recurring theme of “struggle” but not in a negative sense. It’s all part of the process. After reading some of these blogs, I hope you won’t feel quite so alone.
Here’s one of mine, Can This Painting Be Saved? from August 2010. This is by no means the only time I have spilled my angst in a blog post.
In this post, Catherine Carter shares her battle with the canvas in Trials, Tribulations, and Finally Success! I love how Catherine stays focused and determined to get to that “aha!” moment. I can so identify!
And from Catherine’s blog, we go to just about anything Rebecca Crowell has to say about her day-to-day process. She is generous in her sharing of thoughts and motivations. Here is one eloquent example from January 16, 2011 titled Struggles with New Work.
I loved Cheryl McClure’s post Good and Bad from this past Saturday. This one made me smile with recognition, as Cheryl usually does. She sounds like she’s working away, just across the room from me, and muttering just a little under her breath.
Lynne Taetzsch is an artist whose work I enjoy. I also admire how she freely shares what’s happening on the canvas on a regular basis. Just one quick glance at her blog and I found this great post titled Ongoing Struggle in the Process of Making Art.
My thanks to all these artists for sharing their process.