The Artist’s Journey: A conversation between the spontaneous and the considered
When creating an abstract painting, there’s an interaction between unfettered self expression and awareness of principles that scaffold and create visual engagement.
It’s an ongoing dialogue and dance.
If your art is purely about spontaneity the risk is a chaotic painting with little or no underlying structure. On the other hand, approaching a painting from a strategic mindset can lead you down a path of predictable, formulaic art. This latter approach to art, though “successful” on many levels is ultimately un-gratifying in the long run.
In the life cycle of being an artist, many of us learn the principles of design and start out by creating paintings with a plan in mind. Eventually, we may end up feeling bored with the predictability of the planned painting.
Science Mirrors Art
At the juncture of physics and biology lives the science of complex adaptive systems. Under certain conditions complex systems can be viewed as living on a spectrum between order and disorder.
On one end lives the metronome, on the other, old fashioned television snow.
But in between is a magical place.
A place where there is enough randomness to generate surprise and enough order to take advantage of it.
There is strong evidence that this is where evolution, as well as the economy, lives. In fact, it may underlie an understanding of life itself.
Creating art is like being at the boundary of order and chaos
Here’s a quote by Bay Area artist Michael Cutlip:
The process is essential. I work in the moment. In my experiences, a planned painting is a failed painting.
To create art that surprises you, you must deeply experiment, access the unknown and allow the true gestures of your body to come through in your paintings.
Of course, there are compositional and value considerations but we want these to be residing in our “back pocket”. We want design principles to be intuitive- so that, when we need them, they’re available but not overriding the numinous, the mysterious, the surprising reaches of our imagination.
We don’t want anything hindering the emergence of our creations and what’s inside of us that’s trying to be expressed.
A painting must be free to wander. The best works are those that seem to simply happen.
Do you allow your paintings the freedom to wander? Do you cultivate experimentation in your art?
These questions bring to mind a wonderful artist on the east coast, Bob Reid.
Bob is an example of an artist who works from an attitude of deep experimentation and a sense of “allowing” of his own true expression to come through in his art. Bob’s an abstract artist who paints daily and a photographer with over 1,000,000 photographs in his portfolio.
Bob teaches Color Theory at Rowan College at Gloucester County in Sewell, New Jersey and he has a background in Applied Statistics as well as extensive experience in photography.
Bob sent this image to me after reading my new book: The Artist’s Journey.
Bob’s stunning photograph stopped me in my tracks.
Bob wrote to tell me that he’s enjoying the book and that he understands that the journey of creating is about getting in touch with one’s true self.
Indeed, the journey is fraught with perils. It’s strewn with traps. It’s Beowulf fighting to the death with Grendel.
All the great stories teach us that it takes everything to dig down deep and finally trust ourselves.
We discussed at length the teachings of Joseph Campbell in The Hero With A Thousand Faces and how humans are on an endless inner journey. As Bob said, the great stories tell us of our deep feeling that there’s more to life than the life we are living.
There is a lot more to art than art.
I agree wholeheartedly.
If you’d like to go deeper in your own journey of art making, get a copy of my new best selling book: The Artist’s Journey.
The Artist’s Journey is a reflection of the work of my life in both art and psychiatry- guiding others to believe in themselves.
The premise of the book is that being an artist is the act of finally saying “yes” to your dreams, whatever they may be.
It’s an inside job, an inner journey.
The Artist’s Journey is a “why-to”, not a “how-to” book.
The book is not an exhibition of my paintings, but rather an exhortation, a calling forth, for you to finally say “yes” to the dreams that live inside you- dreams that have been waiting patiently to be realized.
The Artist’s Journey is my invitation for you to move closer and closer to your deepest self expression in your art and life.
I recently received a lovely note about the book on my blog- you can see it below.
Thank YOU dear artist for being on this journey with me.
With gratitude from my studio to yours,
P.S. I’d love to see how The Artist’s Journey book is affecting your art and life. I’m highlighting and featuring artists who are deeply affected by the book. If this is you, please write to me here and let me know. If you love the book and feel that it’s transformed your experience of yourself as an artist please leave me a review on Amazon in order to help other artists on their inner journeys. Thank you so much for your kindness and support. You inspire me every day.
Order your copy of The Artist’s Journey >>> HERE.