|In The Deep End|
Oft spoken rules of art-making get my questioning hackles up. How about the one that speed improves skill? Working quickly does create its own unique artistic characteristics. So does a contemplative approach. There are merits to using both ways of painting as learning exercises. We live in a culture that breeds speed. Bigger, louder, brighter, faster everything. It's easy to be swept along believing faster is better, aware only of maybe some tension in a shoulder, or an anxious feeling. But what if you stop with the hurry-up-all-the-time routine? What if you examine your inner world through the process of painting? What will you find? Possibly you'd feel excitement, then thoughtfulness, or then "Yikes, this is harder than I thought", or "I've wrecked it! I quit." Over time you might begin to see a pattern to your creative process. How many paintings have you tossed in frustration? The —I've wrecked it so I quit— stage is pivotal. It holds the potential for the greatest amount of learning and self expression to take place. That's when speed demons move on to a new painting forgoing a great opportunity for growth. We can choose to dig deep or skip along the surface. Sometimes we need to metaphorically unplug ourselves from all the chattering of workshops, art instruction and well-meaning advice, and reconnect to that still point within. From there we can see more clearly our own unique way to paint through the —I wrecked it— stage and in that process develop confidence to meet new creative challenges whatever your medium.
It's important to explore, practice and hone your technique as an artist, and examining your state of mind can free you from creative hang-ups or blocks. We are indoctrinated to speed by the culture we live in but we can choose to investigate the unconscious habits that rush us through a painting, relegating yet another one to the "I quit" pile.