Crossroads…

And here I am again, at the crossroads. Well, at least artistically or metaphorically.

A bunch of ideas are playing around in my head and on the sketchbook.

I have a very cool, tripped out funky sketch, something that I really haven’t done before except in sketches, and maybe a bit in my “Jazzman”. I love it as a sketch and want to paint it…but…am just not sure how it should play out on canvas and with paint.

I also have a new forest series sketch. I’ve taken the concept a bit further, highlighted the powerful moon in the back and played around with landscape and trees…but…it reminds me a lot of “Whispers” in a way, and is that a good thing, or not, and do I want to do another one along those lines.

There are the dark hedges of Ireland that I have only seen in pictures to date, although i have plans to go, and they totally fascinate me with their tendrils entwining, the patterns and colours, the mystery and mood they create in contrast to the path they allow through. I have a sketch and I want to do them…but…where will my interpretation take me and how to capture the magic of such a place.

And then sitting outside with the sun filtering through the birches, the fall leaves falling and blowing, I had another idea about doing a background like those in the forest series, but then taking the palette knives and doing powerful birches in impasto..but…hmm….

There is a story waiting to come out and I can feel it pressing upon me. I know that there is something that I “need” to do and can feel it…it makes me antsy and dissatisfied and edgy as an artist. I can almost put my finger on it…just. Sometimes, when life gets so frenetically busy, the psyche for lack of a better term starts smacking me upside the head, telling me to sit…be still…listen…hush…breathe. And again. It will come.

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What if? Why not?

Sometimes when I look at a piece I have been working on, even when it is “finished”, there is something “missing”. It is “ok”. It kind of looks “done”, but hmm. And then I think, “What if?. What if I added something there, bolded this area out there, put this little bit in there. Why not? What stops us as artists from playing with a work further, experimenting and adding? When you work on a piece for a period of time, especially in oils when you sometimes have to wait days or weeks for a layer to set in the drying process, that hesitation comes from the “what if I totally screw it up and ruin the whole damn thing” fear. What if I take it from “ok” into the “crap what I have done holy mess” zone? I just spent weeks, sketching, layering, adding, lovingly adding brush stroke or palette texture only to foul the piece up to “I HATE it”.

Fear is the enemy of an artist. When we fear, we fail to push, to reach, to stretch, to grow. It is natural to like working within a comfort zone, to keep things safe. I am not a representational artist by any means. Everything I do, even when there is an intent for it to be recognizable as something specific comes filtered through my vision and interpretation. But even then, I have these preset subconscious boundaries that I have placed on myself somewhere in the depths of my psyche. The best example is my latest “finished” painting, “Whispers”, one of my forest interpretations, where the feeling and spirit of the forest is presented through colour and flowing line to convey the emotion one feels when presented with that magical majesty of old growth trees.

It could have been considered complete as I presented it last time, but looking at it something was bugging me and I was dissatisfied with the final image. I was hesitant to go at it again, because then you risk taking thing too far, adding too much, and fail to self edit. To leave it or not to leave it? To sit looking at it always wondering what it was that was irking me about it, or risk “ruining” it and going overboard? And that my friends is where the intuitive spirit as I like to call it takes over. You see, I don’t think we can really “ruin” a work. We can change it, we can push it in a way that we may not like as a final product, but if we do not ever, take those risks, then we will never grow. It once again comes down to there are no failures, there are no mistakes, it is all part of  process.

 

"Whispers" Oil on Canvas

“Whispers”
Oil on Canvas