the artistic process

The Artist and Work by Jennifer

Blue paint  October, 15, 2013

Blue paint  October, 15, 2013

I have been actively working in my studio 5 days a week for almost two months now.  It has been a process of ups and downs, questioning, discovering and finding my way.  Without any expectation beyond going to the studio and painting I have felt both incredibly free and totally untethered.  In the process, I am beginning to develop my work "manual" shall I say.

What I have discovered thus far is this:

I am searching.  Looking for the edges.  Questioning and thinking my way towards a painting.  This is both exciting and  uncomfortable.  Often, I want the map before I've gone on the journey.  I would much prefer figuring things out with my head first so I can have a fine, intelligent body of work created in a smooth and effortless fashion.  I want the proof that my paintings will work.  A solid return on my investment.  Therefore, instead of painting, I "prep" for painting with my head by meditating, reading, studying, drawing, or even leaving the studio. This feeling may often be followed by an internal crisis and feeling of depression.  Not quiet the feeling I am looking for.

What I am learning from this is that I cannot lead with my head, I must lead with my heart.  And my heart is directly linked to the process of painting.

What I am trusting instead is work.  The process of picking up a brush, or pencil and starting to make marks creates its own momentum.  Suddenly....or slowly, ideas pop into my head as I work.  When I follow those ideas, I come up with the most unexpected results and these results are satisfying.  I also begin to see the thread of connection that is unfolding before me.   I know that this process is true, as I have followed it many times before.  Its funny how now, when there truly are no distractions, I create my own distraction by distrusting the process.  Ironic.  Yet, when I follow this simple rule of "just paint" I am rewarded with unexpected discoveries and a true sense of accomplishment.

by Jennifer Davey

What do you recommend as advice for a person who wants to increase/explore their artistic skills?

The first thing I would suggest is to think about what sounds really fun, exciting, or new, and then think about how you can experiment with that. Can you take a class? Look up something on-line or at the library, call an expert and take them to coffee. Push yourself to try something new. The other thing that really helped me a few years back, was using the Artist's Way and really committing to completing the 12 weeks of exercises in the book. This made a huge difference to me when I was trying to figure out how to be an artist after I had left teaching to pursue art. And finally, make sure your definition of art is big enough to include all sorts of inspiring things you may want to explore. Art is about transformation and living more fully.