The question is: Will you show us you in your paintings? Will you express you in your art?
Tell me, what is it you plan to dowith your one wild and precious life?
Extrapolating from Mary Oliver’s inquiry we might ask ourselves: What will I express in my art in the time I have left?
I believe that we each have deep wells of memories, feelings and experiences that are waiting to be expressed in our art- whether it be painting, sculpture, music, writing, dance, parenting or the art of living.
The other day, a new student in one of my courses wrote that she’d experienced a big aha.
She’d been struggling with self doubt for years. She wanted to create art that was expressive and alive yet she tended to second-guess herself.
She’d add layers upon layers of paint in an anxious attempt to create a winning painting. And the harder she tried, the more chaotic the painting appeared.
Her creative process was fraught. The specter of humiliation and failure loomed over her every time she picked up a paintbrush.
She felt resigned to her fate of fighting every painting.
Simplicity, Constraint & Experimentation
We were exploring the idea of bringing simplicity and constraint into experimental studies. A big part of this was the notion of letting go.
Letting go of:
- trying too hard
- trying to please others
- using every color on your palette
- covering every square inch of the canvas
- thinking a painting has to take hours or days to call it “done”
Being perfectionistic and tending to over-complicate things, she grappled mightily with simplicity, constraint and letting go. It seemed anathema to her.
And yet one day, exhausted from another wrestling match with her painting, she defiantly exclaimed to herself: I’m going to simplify this one!
She challenged herself to work with the following constraints:
- work small
- use black, white and yellow ochre
- work intuitively in a stream-of-consciousness fashion
- allow a minimalist expression of a few marks and gestural expressions on each study
- less is more
- leave raw paper or canvas
Trust Your Gestural Expression
The idea was to trust her own gestural expression and allow for immediate, raw and alive works to emerge.
I wanted her to understand that:
- The magic is in the “not knowing”
- It’s a process of searching and finding your way as you create
- Trusting yourself in your exploration is the way to your deepest work
- It’s all experimentation
They were absolutely stunning. There was a freshness and immediacy that brought her work alive.
This can happen for you too.
The magic is in trusting your gestural expression.
Much love from my studio to yours,
P.S. Five months ago, I was invited to contribute the story of how I built my business, The Artist’s Journey, in a book written by my mentor, and today I get to share a free copy of that book with you!
The Expert Called YOU, How 8 Experts Built a Business and Life They Love, Sharing What They Know…and, How You Can Too is Jeanine’s book. It explores mindset, methods, and inspiring stories — this book is about taking your expertise and passion and turning it into a meaningful business that transforms lives and allows you to live the life you imagine doing THE thing you know you’re here to do in the world.
You can get a free instant access copy here>> http://bit.ly/2QssfG8
Also published on Medium.