Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Pink Landscape. Collage on Stuffed Canvas.18 x 24"


Inspiration is usually the source of an artist’s motivation for wanting to depict a particular subject, method, color combination, or idea as a piece of art.

Usually there is an initial drive to want to capture “something.” Inspiration motivates the artist to complete the work, even during disappointments and failures. While filled with emotion, it is a good time to articulate just what is the intention or goal to be accomplished.

During the actual work, the process itself may suggest new ways of working. The goal may be lost. The artist need not become bound to the original goal, but if the original intention has been understood, or even written down, there is always the option to explore different versions of the same subject and to return to the first concept. Subject inspiration, response, and process are so interconnected, it is often impossible to separate them.

The artist’s direction may change while creating a piece, as it did for me when working on this collage. It started as a piece of satin, which I marbleized as an experiment. This was sewn, stuffed and stretched with its canvas backing over a frame. Later I collaged computer printed paper strips on the surface to create the feeling of a landscape, using acrylic medium.

Whether by conscious choice or intuition, this kind of change in direction reflects growth. The evolution of choices leads to a refinement of direction, which uniquely defines not just one piece, but eventually, a body of work.

Being able to define these goals and the concept behind a single piece or a group of works will help the artist while working. Awareness allows adjustment.. It is the simple repetition of correcting something that leads to improved skill.

The artist must dismiss that negative little voice that tells him or her that s/he is “not good enough” rather than accepting that the painting, the drawing, or the photograph is not good enough. The real task is to learn how to make it better, and eventually it will be better than just good enough.

I have found it is easier to let go of preconceptions by working on “throw-away paper,” or to just allow an experimental process or technique to take over. Sometimes a remarkable accident has a wonderful impact. This affords and opportunity to shift, and work in a new way, or direction. Thinking about what was learned helps to integrate the discovery into the range of choices to be made in the future.

I would describe an artist’s process as a series of discoveries of what does work as well as what doesn’t.

The materials, tools, and medium used are the physical manifestation of that process. They record the artist’s journey, energy and handwriting left behind in that process. Employing a particular technique expresses the artist’s style. But it is the artist’s vision which creates the final work, and not the medium, or the tools.

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