The Laws of Nature

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Community Discussion: An Experiment


Image: Stick path by Andy Goldsworthy

Following up on yesterday's post about the artist's community, your comments reflected how important this type of interaction is. Many of us work in isolation, or semi-isolation, and seek opportunities to have substantive discussions with other artists. That's how we found each other in the blogosphere.

So, I'd like to conduct a community experiment - a discussion among us that flows along a path that might occur naturally if we were all in the same room.

Let's exchange thoughts and ideas - related to art, of course - that interest us most. I'll delay reviewing the next book I'm reading until next Monday so that we have plenty of time to travel down a conversational path. My job is to facilitate the discussion through daily summaries that allow us all to continue the conversation.

So, for the next four days here's what we'll do: the first person to post a comment today gets to select the topic that most interests him/her. Subsequent comments should acknowledge the initial topic, expand upon it and even slightly turn the path. This is usually how live conversations progress over time.

Of course, we'll respect the virtues of polite conversation and respect all who choose to engage. So - let's begin! Someone start us off. Feel free to comment as much as you like.
Who's first??

14 comments:

RHCarpenter said...

Seeing this post, I expected someone to have jumped in and written something. But no one had. Why? Fear? So let's talk about fear and art. I believe fear is at the root of all bad art - the fear of ruining a creation that is "good enough" but not quite there - fear of someone saying, "Are you crazy? What were you thinking?" How does fear enter into your studio and how do you push it out (or do you allow it to stay and work with it)? I think fear is keeping me from working right now on anything challenging (I call this being uninspired but that's just a word for being afraid). How about you?

Kathy said...

Thanks for beginning this discussion, Rhonda! Welcome. I posted it only moments before you responded and I'm glad you took the bait. Great topic! Fear of what others will think about our work - a.k.a. "inhibitions" - is definitely a creativity killer. I used to be so concerned about it, even to the point of ignoring my own thoughts and ideas. Not good!! These days I block at other voices as much as I can and the volume has decreasd from a shout to a soft whisper. These days, I place confidence in what my parents used to tell me when I was a child: "just let it out!" That gives me confidence.

hwfarber said...

I think I have the first fear you mention--of ruining something that's almost good enough. That's probably why I race around just before shows--finishing that last five percent (the do-it or ditch-it time).

If no one asked, "Are you crazy?," it would probably mean that I was not painting authentically. I love answering, "Yes, it comes from both sides of my family." I do have a slightly skewed view of life, and that's what I enjoy painting. I don't think fear has ever kept me from working on art of some kind.

Kudos to you, RH--I could never have posted the first comment.

Lorna said...

I fear producing paintings that extend my work because I am not confident they will sell. I hope to move forward on this soon.

Robin said...

I used to be afraid my paintings would not be considered "professional" or good" enough to show and sell, or at least try to sell, and now I think I don't focus on sales as much. I trust myself mostly, and I know if a painting works for me then I want to share it. I also used to be afraid I would ruin paintings, especially if it was a demo, but now I say to myself (and out loud to students) when I take bold steps in my process, "the worst that can happen is I ruin this!" but I still would have learned from my mistake. I recently turned 53 and honestly believe with age comes a certain wisdom and confidence, especially when making art.

Kathy, I hope I participated properly!

Kathy said...

Nice job, Rhonda and everyone else! Keep it going ... I'm headed back to the studio to see if I can either ruin this piece of watercolor paper or turn it into a masterpiece (or maybe, realistically, something inbetween!)

Carolina Moon Arts Studio said...

My greatest fear has always been that my artwork would end up in a garage sale years after i'm gone. When i go to antique stores and garage sales I want to scoop up all those paintings in the corner that nobody wants. It seems a shame. I'm devising a plan that will take care of whatever is left in the studio after me. Kind of like an art trust or art will.

L.W.Roth, said...

I did an interesting painting this last summer--a landscape from a photo I took. It was coming out too pretty. I got angry and lashed out at it. I painted it all black an then drew into with white, yellow and red letting the black (mixed) dominate. The result scared me. I had painted what I really felt when I photographed that scene. I brought the painting back up to "nice." It was finished when it was black with white, yellow and red. Anger made me attack the painting. Fear of showing my true feelings towards the subject and made me ruin the painting.

Sharmon Davidson said...

It's think it's hard to trust in yourself, but I learned a lesson about making art to please others. When I was in grad school at a very prestigious art college, I was very unsure of myself. The instructors didn't like my work, so I tried to do what I thought would please them, since they were the "experts", ya know. As I second- and third- guessed myself, I liked it less and less, and got so turned around in my head that I began to hate everything I did! I lost my own authentic voice, which is so essential to making art, and the art that resulted was soul-less, and horrible. Ironically, the instructors didn't like it either. It was a hard lesson, but learned not to let others dictate what my art should be.

Jean Spitzer said...

Fear and art, fear of what others will think, fear of ruining something good by pushing for more. I think that sheer volume of work can remove some of the fear, or at least diminish the fears to the point where one can work.

Celeste Bergin said...

Things like the "painting-a-day" movement and "100 starts" are excellent for breaking through the fear thing. When you paint or draw every single day it becomes habit. I read somewhere that if you do something for 21 days it begins to feel routine. True! I faced my timidity about painting by working everyday. Now, I can not remember being afraid. Painting outdoors where people come up to you and look at your work is something that "good for you" too! You get used to it and you make so many really awful mistakes that you REALLY get over yourself. lol. When you're all locked up in fear it has to do with ego. I improved a lot when I realized making mistakes is a positive thing.

-Don said...

This has been a great discussion, and once again I find myself showing up late. I regret that I will miss the next few days of the discussion since I will be traveling for the weekend. I'll look forward to coming home and reading what I missed.

I have a lot of confidence in my abilities, but I have to be honest and admit that EVERY time I start a painting I have a touch of the fear of failure raise up within my psyche. Sometimes it goes away as soon as I get a few strokes down. Sometimes it goes away as I progress along. Sometimes it stays with me all the way through to when I call it done. What's strange is some of the ones that kept me afraid the longest and which I often am not sure about upon completion have been the best received.

I think that touch of fear is what makes this thing I do so exciting. Maybe that's why I'm continually trying new things.

BTW, I know I'm crazy, so I've never feared that question. In fact, I've usually welcomed it... :-)

Have a great weekend everybody, and Happy Veterans Day!

-Don

Claire said...

having just taken the plunge at the ago of 46 and started an art course only 6 weeks ago, i battle with creative fear every single day!!
heeding the wisdom in the other comments, i'm hoping the more i draw, learn, try, fail, the lesser the fear will become...
thanks for starting the ball rolling, rhonda, with such a great topic, and again thanks, kathy, for creating the space for it to happen! i learn sooooo much from your blog :)

RHCarpenter said...

I started this discussion due to my own fears and problems with painting. I've gotten some great advice and true words to take to heart. And in a comment on my blog, my friend Teresa reminded me of the book Art and Fear (which I haven't read) about the paint of not working outweighing the pain of working - so then you get back to work! ha ha Thanks so much, everyone!