spontaneity and control
Some artists who come to my workshops are perplexed when I encourage them to leave their paintings open-ended an in flux until fairly late in the process. They are accustomed to working toward a fairly clear idea from the time they begin a painting, and my process-oriented approach feels a lot like just mucking around to them. Some others are in the opposite corner, finding it difficult to commit to anything beyond making interesting colors and textures.
It's indeed a challenge to find a balance of spontaneity and control in a painting. Both are important--experimenting, allowing things to happen with the paint that will create rich color and texture. Then, with full respect for the playful and spontaneous energy of the work, pushing further for structure, emotional depth and personal meaning. Without the spontaneity, the work can be stilted and constricted--the subconscious potential of the artist's creativity repressed. Without the control and intent, abstraction can become generic, derivative, weak in composition. Perhaps most importantly, it won't satisfy the artist's own deep drive and desire for personal meaning and growth if it lacks the underpinnings of intent and conscious exploration.
For me, integrating these seeming opposites is the work of a lifetime. I've been engaged in this challenge in my studio for years, and it will keep me going from here on. Maybe the reason I'm so intrigued by this balance is because of its implications for dealing with life in the bigger picture. How to stay loose, open to possibilities, playful in the best and most creative sense. Aware that there is no such thing as absolute control. But at the same time, being conscious, aware of intention, direction and meaning.
The painting above, Veil (Gray and Purple) 14"x11", 2012, is part of a series of paintings that explore layers of color and texture with underlying structure.