The Laws of Nature

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The weight of opinions and maturity

I've been recollecting my earliest days as an artist and remember strong feelings of insecurity about what I painted, how I painted, and who saw it. I was soooooo inhibited and apologetic about my work that it was pathetic. I realize now, that the driving force behind what and how I painted was the opinions of others - a purely external force that drove me toward unoriginal thought and imitation. I played it safe because I knew that people liked landscapes with barns, or seascapes with sea gulls, or flowers in vases, or impressionistic style, etc. I nearly killed the creative artist within in order to find acceptance. What a mistake! Luckily, I recognized this and changed course pretty fast.
I'm not saying that expert opinion is unimportant - we all need substantive critique. My meaning is that the driving force for artistic creation should be internal: how do I perceive things? how should I express those perceptions? Inhibitions be damned! In my opinion, this is the path to artistic maturity. Where am I along that path? Probably a teenager. But, I'm getting there ....

10 comments:

Charlene Brown said...

I'm enjoying your evolving series very much - love the concept and the compositions are stunning. And I find your analysis of your response to critiques, and thoughts on how best to use the input, really helpful. You mentioned the importance of the internal driving force -- how do you handle the 'alternating' internal force, where you like something, put it away for a while -- then when you get back to it, can't imagine why you thought it was even okay? Or, hide something you can't stand, then when you see it again, realize it's terrific...?

Kathy said...

Thanks, Charlene, for taking the time to read my blog and for your generous comments. Good questions, too! I think I've damped my 'alternating' internal force, as you put it, over the years to the point where I don't hear it. In addition to painting, I spend a great deal of time studying the paintings of others, enter national and international juried exhibitions, and sell my work. All of this give me a good enough perspective of where my paintings rank (somewhere in "Middle Earth" I suspect). So, when I create a new one, I have a good idea of how to improve it. However - and most importantly - I take BABY STEPS! I don't try to create the next "Mona Lisa." Rather, I make small and incremental improvements that, year after year, become significant. It keeps me from getting frustrated and I can measure the progress. Thanks for asking :)

Pat said...

This is an amazing series and I have enjoyed reading through it.

Mark Sheeky said...

When I'm negative I'm ultra apologetic and inhibited about just about every aspect of my personality but curiously very rarely my paintings which seem to have become surrogate children that must be defended! The only downside is that when the opposite way, because I seem to be intellectually bi-polar and see two extremes at once! I switch into an a-typical surrealist arrogance and I'm unsure if I like that better or worse. Personality aside though, the art must remain "true" and as long as that is the case then praise or critique is irrelevant, because truth is truth, and for me that's "good art", nothing to do with how pretty it is, just like good writing is not about vocabulary but what you say.

Kathy said...

Interesting, Mark. So, what is "truth?" And, how can we recognize it?

r garriott said...

Good writing, Kathy... issues and concepts that effect many (likely most) of us artists.

And your cracked egg shell paintings are outstanding.

Gary Keimig said...

I also find your analysis on development as an artist so true of most all of us. If we are really honest about it. Found my first blue egg shell probably Robin]on my deck yesterday and thought of your paintings so in that way I am probably missing the boat on what you are conveying but it did put me in mind of your art. So sometimes our art can be stimulating or conveyed by others in ways we do not even think about.

Pixel Pattie said...

I saw one of these paintings in a magazine or book and thought it was really engaging. I am glad you visited my blog so I now know who you are and all about your fabulous series. I am a new painter looking for my "style". I really like yours.

-Don said...

I'd say you're doing some pretty good artwork for a teenager... This is another wonderfully insightful bit of writing, Kathy. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. It causes me to question my external influences. My wife tells me I don't listen half the time anyway so maybe I'm safe...

My brother showed me a cool way to follow blogs today without having to click 'followers'. See that orange box with concentric semicircles up in the navigator bar? Just click on that and you can subscribe to someones blog - which means when they post something new you'll get a message. I need this since my blog software does not have a 'followers' option.

-Don

Leslie Avon Miller said...

That apologetic space - that inhibition - suck the life out of our creative energy. I continually talk to myself about letting go of the need to please. My internal conversation is continual because the pressures from society to conform and be pleasing are continual! Or I am over sensitive to those messages maybe. Great post Kathy. My word verification is "gallop" - a message to just get on with it!