OK, so anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to my recent posts will have noticed a definite change in focus. I last got into oil painting way back in 2006, but have lately fallen head over heels for it again. Partly due to getting an iPad and wanting to use it as a tool to make stuff, and partly due to the fact that I’ve just not been winning any public art calls. Interestingly, my stiffest competition has been from an old friend and colleague who I’ve known, and traded work with, for 20 years. I’m predisposed towards over-analyzing and self-flagellating, so I spent quite a bit of time trying to ascertain what it was that her proposals had that mine were missing – and the only pertinent difference to me seemed to be a pronounced lack of real artistic passion for the work. Not an easy thing to swallow, but when I step back and look at the designs I’ve been producing for the last couple years (since Meme, anyway), I can’t help but notice a too clinical, too detached “feel” to my output. Maybe this is a result of my embracing a computer-generated methodology, or it could be that the constraints involved in working in the Public sphere are having a dampening effect on the amount of love and enthusiasm I’m able to express in my sculpture.
The iPad comes into this tangentially, as I was just messing around with various drawing and painting apps on the thing when the spark of passion flared up in me once again for pictorial representation. It is a strange feeling to realize how specialized one becomes when focusing on 3-dimensional form, and how designing objects that become part of the existing built environment allows you to eschew designing that object into a flat, 2-dimensional picture plane. Or, more accurately, the composition of the environment and the sculpture you place within it can be seen from an infinite number of viewpoints, therefore rendering it impossible to focus on just one pictorial view. Just as I spoke in earlier posts about the joy of employing Adobe Illustrator to pare down the creative process to it’s simplest form – making marks on paper – I found the effort of organizing 2d shapes and depicting them via strokes of the brush (finger) and the placement of blobs of color on a rectangle exhilerating and challenging. Much of the challenge comes from the physical detachment I feel when attempting to “paint” on the iPad, both the lack of direct control and the missing element of beautiful accidents. So I set the little Apple tablet aside and unfolded my old easel. As I squeezed out the first dazzling glob of Cerulean Blue, the hook was set.
Through the process of creating a painting, I find myself almost simultaneously charging boldly forward and holding my breath for fear of messing up an earlier, perfect, stroke. I keep a daily journal, and the entries since I began painting again are in marked contrast to those before, going from robotic chronicling of daily events to spirited examinations of my painted discoveries, triumphs, and failures.
This. Is. Awesome.