The Laws of Nature

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Nature of Change

Change .... sometimes it brings us the hope of better things to come, and sometimes it strikes fear into our hearts. When it comes to creating art, if we stick with it long enough we can become bored with our approach and seek change. That's what happens to me every time I create a new series, like the latest one that I have posted in a slide show above.

But, change doesn't come easily. First, we are constrained by all that we've learned ... all those principles and elements that we're told make a great painting. Our thinking is bound-up by the need to strictly adhere to them. However, innovation occurs when we venture outside of those constraints. When that happens, we face the uncertainty of whether or not we've done the correct thing, especially because most people don't respond well to something "new."

And, if people do respond well to our innovations, have we really gone far enough? Are we still playing it safe?

The nature of change is one of excitement, fear, and uncertainty. We can avoid change in our artmaking and keep producing the same old thing our entire lives, or we can step out of the safety zone and public opinion be damned! I want to step out ... even further. I will, but must do it in baby steps.

By analogy, I just bought a 16' sea-going kayak and launched off my property in Maine into the open ocean about a week ago. I learned enough technique to happily paddle here and there to visit the various islands and have fun. Then, one day last week I unexpectadly capsized my kayak and got dumped into the frigid ocean. Although I could upright the kayak, I couldn't hoist myself back into it. So, I had to think of another solution ... I swam to shore (I'm a strong swimmer) and got back into my kayak there. This will forever change my approach to kayaking and force me to learn some new skills.

Maybe we need to capsize our boats (traditional artmaking methods) and find a new approach.

Change leads to innovation. Your thoughts?


hwfarber said...

This promises to be exciting. Why baby steps?

Joyfulartist said...

Well, you are way more courageous than I. I don't think I'd be out kayaking in the ocean by myself, or anywhere else, either. My hat goes off to you; you are a courageous painter as well!

Dan Kent said...

I think it's like tacking with the wind. Constant adjustments, constant changes, and hopefully the wind will continue to fill our sails.

Mary Paquet said...

I think you are braver than I am about change, Kathy. I definitely take baby steps. The journey should be interesting to watch.

I'm happy to hear you are a strong swimmer and you came up with an alternate solution. No wonder you are thinking about change. It gave you pause for thought.

-Don said...

Changing is really easy for me. Black t-shirt, check. shorts or jeans, check. When I really want to stir things up I put on a dark gray t-shirt. And when I dress up, the jeans are black. Nope, I'm not stuck in a rut...

In all seriousness, I've been forced to endure several major changes throughout my life. Because of this, I learned early in life that I'd better embrace them and find something to grow from in each of those changes. I try to employ those lessons in my studio, as well. Even though my subject matter continues to follow a vein, my approaches to the subject matter are continually evolving/changing.

Having followed you for nearly two years now, I know for a fact that you embrace change. I know it has been forced upon you in some instances, and a chosen path in others. I find inspiration in your experiments and your successes.

I have a kayaking story of my own to share someday, but it will end up tripling the length of this comment. So, I'll save it for another day...


Anonymous said...

In the spirit of change, my response is a haiku:

The nature of change
Rains down excitement and fear
Growth comes in cycles

Casey Klahn said...

Glad you made it to shore!

I'm so busy processing my current art ideas, that the thought of change is confounding. maybe soon, I'll have some changes thrust upon my art, anyway.

Eva said...

As a military brat I've lived with change all my life, but it is still very hard for me. An officer for a father meant I dealt with a lot of "do as I say, no questions asked". Needless to say I resent authority figures and those who try to tell me how I should live or create.I paint as I darn well please and have lost some business as a result. Only my inner critic has the ability to trump me.

Stan Kurth said...

Change is awesome! Everything, everywhere is moving to somewhere else so turn and face the strange changes. (some credit to David Bowie)

Mark Sheeky said...

Hi Kathy, Sorry it's been a while since I've stopped by.

Change, well you can't innovate AND stay the same, so it's always good to think of every possibility. The only downside is that you're always learning and might never attain mastery in one field, but, being quite good at everything might be better anyway.

Well done on the swim!!

Deborah C. Stearns said...

Great post! I'm impressed by your kayak story -- you're braver than I am.

I wonder about the balance between change and stability. How long do we pursue one line of exploration before it becomes a rut? When is change premature, cutting us off from the full depth of a particular line of pursuit? Can change be a way of avoiding commitment to a particular idea?

I've missed your blog! I hope you are enjoying your summer.

Caroline Bray Art said...

I'm a strong believer in change and I believe that rules were made to be broken, esp. when it comes to creativity. While I love paintng realism I'm taking baby steps to evolve more abstract element into my realism and I'm enjoying it so much more thna just doing the same thing everyday. After years of studying I abandoned a PhD in the History of Art because I was sick of being told what to think and how to think about art. Nt only should artists be creative, but so should critics and hstorians. It might lead them away from convoluted psychobabble, away from intellectual gymnastics and towars something more perceptve and accurate. Think outside the box but stay true to the fundamentals.