When I sit down to an untouched piece of paper, with tubs of clean water, and lots of gooey, fresh paint all set to play and experiment, I may or may not have an idea in mind. More often it is a curiosity to try new paints together in different ways. Or to start making a hodgepodge of lines and marks, or maybe sinuous and sensuous organic shapes floating around the page. The beginning dictates the direction and finally the end point as it becomes a process of letting each fresh passage suggest where I go next – a visual response to an unplanned start.
There are always choices – I can move forward directly, erase and go backward; adding or taking away shapes, colors, lines, and value. It ends up being a series of split second decisions – although they might seem random on the surface, they are in response to subtle messages from the paper and paint. Improvisational art – composing on the fly! Every addition adds complexity, but in the constant effort to tell more with less, editing is ever-present– all that lovely tension.
My choices are made from experience working with my materials- with color and water, with line, textures, and shape. In a way it is like a chef who knows about the interrelationships of flavors and foods, or a musician who knows the scale of her instrument – either can select those notes of interest within a particular context with some vague expectations but no solid idea of the end result until they arrive.
A fresh musician can't simply pick up a horn, blow through it, and expect music to come out the other end. Or does an un-initiated cook walk into a kitchen and bake. Knowledge, technique, and the language of their art are all involved in making their ‘music’. A lot of practice is necessary to train the eye, the ear, or the tastebuds to act with a kind of ‘muscle memory’ toward interesting and pleasing ends.
In abstraction, every choice in making art is not necessarily a logical one - many are intuitive and hundreds are made one after another as a work progresses. This is where experience guides the process; artists develop a feel for what they do. Only some of that can be explained while doing it or deconstructed afterward. A fresh artist/student has to keep doing and applying and experimenting and learning until all the facets begin to converge into a successful piece of art. And there it is! There’s the joy in being a life-long learner! This is not just a journey for a new painter – all of us must jump on every opportunity to add experiences, knowledge, fresh eyes, and view others’ art because we know this is an ever-evolving process. It is a tremendous journey with no necessary end. Get on the art bus with me and let’s go for a ride!