Diebenkorn in his studio.
We've almost completed Chapter 1 of Wendy Richmond's book Art Without Compromise. Stan, you're probably way ahead of us! Before discussing this section of the book, I'd like to digress a little to discuss something that relates to yesterday's post.
I spent two agonizing hours last evening "ghost writing" an installation proposal for a sculptor who wishes to exhibit in a public space. I use the word "agonizing" because the scribbled description that this veteran artist sent me in lieu of a concept definition was so amorphous that I couldn't find the boundaries. So, I spent most of my time looking at images of the sculptures (which I had seen in person last year) and trying to figure out what the heck the titles meant. After two hours, I conjured up what I think the concept is or should be. I mention this in support of Richmond's suggestion that we should know how to answer the question "My work is about..." In theory, no one else can answer it for you. In practice, however, some artists need to hire a "ghost writer" like me because they can't put into words that which they created through intuition.
Back to the next section of Richmond's book, entitled "Developing a Creative Practice." This section is very much like some of the advice given in Ian Roberts' book Creative Authenticity, which we discussed last December. The point that Richmond makes here is about self-imposing discipline in art-making. This suits me since I thrive on established routines. Here are some suggestions for providing a structure for your creative output:
1. Working side by side - this means working alongside others who are engaging in the same process. You don't have to share the same physical space, but there needs to be a vehicle for mutual support. I think that blogging is a great way to do this, since I cannot paint with other people in the same room (keeps me from concentrating).
2. Required studio time and place - commit to a schedule and show up to work. Personally, this is the only way I can be productive and stay happy about it.
3. Critiques and feedback - Richmond is an art instructor and encourages her students to meet in triads for mini critiques. This is a great idea. I'm part of a group of 12 that regularly critiques the works of its members, which is especially helpful to me, and I value the opinions of my blog readers as well. Of course, it's important to know how to filter through the suggestions and retain the useful ones. Blogging can be used for critique, but may also hinder our efforts through too much false praise.
4. Insights from a daily practice - here, the author advises us to keep a daily journal to record thoughts and processes. Some of you are good at this, I'm not. In fact, if I did create one I'd probably never read it later. Am I missing something? Probably.
5. Finding a non-precious routine - solo artists, like me, are responsible for both the initial idea and the outcome. As Richmond points out, this can lead to stress that hinders creativity because it makes us feel that everything we do in the studio must be important. The remedy is to establish some "non-threating" routines for engaging in the work as a process rather than a performance. Hmmm... I need to work on that one!
6. Committing to creativity - the bottom line is our individual commitment to creating art. It's a responsibility that we cannot delegate to others if we want to succeed.
Next post ... the end of Chapter 1.