Art is definitely a firmly entrenched part of my everyday life. I tend to work best when I work quickly (a large reason I use acrylics, not slow drying oils). I often get an idea in my head and mull it around for a few days, weeks, or even months. I’m no thumbnail- sketcher, nor would I ever do an entire ‘mock up’ of a painting beforehand. When the time is right (and it’s something that isn’t controllable or predictable in my world) I grab a piece of extra-large charcoal, some reference photos and, of course, a primed canvas and go to town. I never sketch something in full detail, it’s always very rough, and, typically, it’s also moving off the canvas.
I remember my art classes vividly growing up; my instructors would always remind me to ‘keep it on the page’, as I had a tendency, even then, to blow things up larger than life. The idea of something being centered on my working space makes me quake; it always has. Because I tend toward the self-blame game, accepting some of the idiosyncracies of my artistic style has been a great challenge. I used to consider my style and compositional tendencies to be a complete lack of artistic merit. I took only two drawing classes in college, the worst 2 grades I’ve ever received; very painful as I worked so hard every semester being an honors student. After the second one, in which the instructor told me I ‘shouldn’t show a painting outside of Indiana’ (I happen to be quite proud of the amazing artists we have here in Indiana, thank you very much!), I decided to go it alone and eschew any formal art education. For this, I am EXTREMELY grateful.
For years, I gave myself no credit and would not give myself permission to explore art further. When my artistic epiphany finally hit me over the head like a lightning bolt, I painted my first real painting (using my fingers, I had no brushes and the urge was finally too great to ignore). I was pretty amazed, and pretty disappointed, too. For quite sometime after that, I deeply resented the fact that I didn’t paint in greater, finer detail like a few of my all-time favorite artists: Norman Rockwell (yes, he was a BRILLIANT ARTIST, not ‘just’ an illustrator! But that’s another blog entry all it’s own) , Vermeer, Chuck Close (up close, his painting technique is mesmerizing, far away, it is ravishing perfection!), Denis Petersen, and artists of that ilk. What I eventually came to realize, however, is that I can ADMIRE these phenomenal artists, but there are others who deserve equal praise; whose styles are more in keeping with my own creative leanings. Edward Hopper, Titian (in the style of, say, his ‘Assunta’ or ‘Portrait of Emperor Charles the V’, paintings), and so many other artists who aren’t as concerned about hyper-realism as they are in conveying a sense of immediacy or ‘moment’ in time.
I am a huge fan of a wide range of art, artists, mediums and genres, and try to appreciate all that I see for the creativity it took to bring it to life. But it is SUCH a blessed relief to be okay with my own work now, not to punish myself and wish I was creating like someone else, but to be thankful and happy I can create at all.