The Laws of Nature

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Working Method

Principle 11 of Ian Roberts' book Creative Authenticity is entitled "Working Method." Roberts rambles a bit in this chapter, but eventually arrives at a few useful pieces of advice that I'll simplify:

  • Impose a foundation for your work before you begin painting.

  • Put meaning into your work.

  • Give your work your full attention.

  • Don't be sloppy, lazy, or hurried - it will all show.

  • Love your process - that will show, too.

  • Evaluate your work as objectively as possible.

  • Practice, practice, practice.
The author concludes by writing: when we engage attentively and honestly, pay attention to the insights that come to us, see our denial and faulty thinking and engage in uncovering the obstacles and blocks to our expression, we understand that art is a wonderful medium for personal growth.

I guess what Roberts is telling us is that WHAT we do is important, but HOW we do it is equally important. Perhaps, as we set goals for 2010 it might be good to add to our lists not only WHAT we want to accomplish (the goals) but HOW we want to accomplish.

Your thoughts?


M said...

It is in the working process that our work grows and is even improved beyond our initial foundational ideas. Process is my strength because I leave myself totally open to the ideas that inevitably arrive as I work. The context created as I work produces insights that are clearer and often more interesting that what I have when I begin a work. These insights enhance the original meaning I hope to develop in the work. The act of creating consumes me and everything else in my mind falls away. I'm captured!

One of the constant comments I receive about my work is that the surfaces are "good enough to eat". To me that's the ultimate compliment because the build-up of layers provides the essence of my intent.

Evaluating your work objectively is very important and I have no trouble divorcing myself from the work to do this. I also have two good critique friends that are honest in their observations about my work. For those of you interested in critique, you can find past posts on the topic in my sidebar.

Kathy, I keep forgetting how large your work is. The picture at the top impresses me greatly. Painting large is so beyond me.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Well, I've got loving the process down....that's part of why I work - love of the process.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to write those seven points down to refer to on a regular basis. Don't laugh- but I use to think that good art "just happened". It's actually a relief to know that good art takes time, consideration, practice, practice, practice. I can do those things- but I can't make good art "just happen".
I agree that the "HOW" is equally important to the "WHAT". The how can help us redefine the what.

hw (hallie) farber said...

Surprisingly, I think I do all these things (when I show up). I absolutely love the process.

Great photograph of you and your painting.

Unknown said...

Hi Margaret - Thank you for providing us with additional insight into your process. It's very helpful to think about the differences and similarities as we create. It would be a real "treat" to see one of your paintings in person! Sounds like you do a great deal with layering and surface quality. How wonderful that you have friends who can provide you with substantive critique. It's soooo important!

Hi Leslie - that's great! You're way ahead of the game when you love the process.

Hi Pam - you're not the only one! I think many of us once believe, or still believe, that art "just happens" as if it can just fall from the sky upon a select few. However, there are a select few whose creative genius towers above the rest of us. It's great to learn from these giants.

Hi Hallie - I know you do!!!

Mark Sheeky said...

Thank you so much for this post!

"Perhaps, as we set goals for 2010 it might be good to add to our lists not only WHAT we want to accomplish (the goals) but HOW we want to accomplish."

Below my list of 2010 goals I added "How:" and made a numbered list. It's going to help! My goals list was already 158 lines long though!

Unknown said...

Wow, Mark! 158 lines of goals on your list?? That's quite ambitious. Go for it :)

Celeste Bergin said...

I like these ideas--especially "don't be sloppy, lazy or hurried". When I am deliberate I have a much better chance for matching my vision. If I get distracted and can't get it back --it's a scraper. It takes a long while (at least it did for me) to get to a place where one knows how to make a stroke that feels "trustworthy"--until then an artist can grope around hoping for the best. It is better to know ahead of time that it is LIKELY that it is going to work! That takes focus. It comes and goes for me--but often I can achieve focus, this improves with canvas mileage!
Love that photo of you painting.

Unknown said...

Hi Celeste - I agree that focus is critically important to developing effective techniques and ideas. Your work shows your dedication and ability to focus. Thanks!

-Don said...

I'm a little late chiming in on this wonderful laundry list. I guess that's because I've been busy following this seven step process on too many pieces at once - which is a bit of a departure for me. Since those steps are so much fun and capture our full attention when we "show up" we should probably add two more very important steps to the list: 8) remember to eat, and 9) get some sleep.

Now I'm going to go follow step nine...


Unknown said...

Don - Ohhh... I'm anticipating a whole set of new paintings from you! Thanks for reminding us about #8 & 9 - and hope you followed those tips!