When it comes to making art, technique has always been a struggle for me. Always. Drawing, painting, color theory and color mixing never came easy for me. I often felt like I had to put in a lot more time than most people in order to develop the skills that I have acquired and I continue to work at developing those skills on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, the most difficult and challenging part of making art for me has always been finding the courage to be completely honest and authentic in my work. Ever since I first felt the compulsion to make art, many decades ago, expressing my personal vision has always been of utmost importance to me and the driving force behind my willingness to put in as much time as was necessary in order to develop the skills that I needed. But being honest and authentic in one’s work is often easier said than done. It requires that one really be comfortable with who they are because, let’s face it, the more you love who you are, the more willing you are going to be to create work that is a manifestation of your true self. If you’re working from a place of true authenticity, your work has to be original because each one of us is unique. But with honesty and authenticity comes the risk of facing indifference, or even ridicule, from our audience and thus arises the temptation to hide behind a mask and create work that looks like someone else’s, which becomes all too easy if we’ve spent years learning technique by copying the established masters. This can happen on an unconscious level, so it’s important, if we’re making art, to ask ourselves “Am I really being authentic? Am I really being myself?” and to find a way to manifest our true selves into the work that we do.
To be truly authentic in one's work requires total acceptance of oneself, despite our seemingly numerous attributes and behaviors that we may see as shortcomings or failings. Like all things created in nature, we are perfect as we are and we should celebrate our uniqueness, not only in our work, but in every aspect of our lives. To live and work authentically is to truly live life to the fullest.
One of the properties that I love most about oil paint is that it stays wet and workable for several days. I generally like to work a painting whilst the paint is still wet, but sometimes, for various reasons (illness, other commitments, house guests, or a painting that just turns out to be very complicated and difficult), that isn’t possible. Such was the case with this painting. I had a five day window of time in which to complete it, but I wasn’t able to resolve the image before the paint started to dry. Much to my chagrin, I found myself out of my comfort zone and having to remix my colors and paint on top of a surface that was no longer workable. Interestingly, though, I found that my being forced to work this way ended up resulting in a surface that was very dense and textural and ultimately perfect for this particular image. (Click on the close-up below to get a better sense of what I mean.)
Once again I reminded of the importance (not just in art-making, but in all aspects of life) of knowing when to surrender – to relinquish control and allow things to unfold as they will. This is often one of the most daunting challenges for artists. We tend to want to have control over the finished product and can be afraid to trust our instincts. Ultimately, though, when faced with a choice between my intellect and my intuition, I have found that it is my intuition that always points to the truth.
I am a full time artist, originally from Massachusetts, currently living in northern Maine. I work primarily in oils and pastel, and occasionally watercolor. I offer instruction in drawing and painting at my studio in a renovated potato house. Please feel free to view samples of my work (You can see a larger version of each picture if you click on it.) and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Be sure to click the "Older Posts" button at the bottom to see more work. I don't always have time to respond to comments, but if you wish to correspond with me, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org