Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Learning fear is part of creativity

carbon & acrylic
first marks

A painting is often more interesting at the beginning than at the end. 
Enrique Martinez Celaya; On Art & Mindfulness

How often I am tempted to stop before the painting can be painted. I fall in love with those early, freely deployed marks. No thought No fear. No judgement. 

Freely deployed. I'm not "trying" to make anything. I just let my hand speak to the surface and absorb the energy I place on it with whatever writing tool I'm using.  

How to stay in that initial zone? That's where I struggle. I know the painting isn't finished, how could it be? this is way to easy, the surface is barely scratched, there is too much naked canvas.

So in I go, like an explorer mapping a new territory and at some point, it gets really messy.  I bemoan that earlier painting that has long been buried in the debris of my ineptitude. That's how it feels. And the inner dialogue starts;
I completely messed it up.
What am I doing? 
Why am I doing this?
I don't know what I'm doing!
I should just quit. 

This is where it's crucial to stay in my studio and keep going. This is where something will happen. This is where I need to step out of my head and let the painting become realized.

At this point in the process, the painting is so far off that I get back to where I started. I have nothing to lose, so I re-enter that earlier zone; no thought, no fear, no judgement. 

Sometimes nothing great happens and that's okay, I look at it as a research session. Another building block on my foundation of information. I've been painting steadily for 10 years and early on I almost became paralyzed with the fear of destroying the work.

But the painting in it's current state was mediocre, good at best. And that's not the kind of paintings I want to make; there is no choice, I have to keep working. 

My work has deepened over the years, I can see it in my early work compared to today, but I look at those early pieces and I still like them, because they are authentic to me and I had the courage to let that show.