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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012
  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.
 
Comments:
That delicate balance is so difficult to articulate, let alone paint. You've done a spectacular job of both in this post.
 
so well put Rebecca :))
 
I agree. Well said. Especially this:

"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...."

My thoughts exactly.
 
This is wonderful advice! You've put into words and your painting something so subjective, but so important.

For me painting requires an approach of not-knowing – a letting go of planning and thinking. I have to dig deeper or walk away if my surface mind tries to take over. There's an interaction – a give and take of structure and intuition. When it's working, it's truly a wonderful dance.
 
Thank you Rebecca for a wonderful essay. I shared part of this with an ongoing discussion about art and meaning on the facebook "encaustic" page
 
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