Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Far From Ideal

"...a sense of centrality of art in our lives. It is not a frill, it is not peripheral entertainment, it speaks deeply to us as human concerns, speaks to us better than arguably any other way can. "~ J. Carter Brown

I firmly believe that ideally art has exactly that capacity and place in our lives. We are crazy to think otherwise. In that quotation, Brown was speaking of "Rings: Five Passions in World Art", his exhibit that accompanied the Olympic Games in Atlanta some years ago. He wanted to pull together an experience that spoke to things we all have in common. So he chose themes of passions. Five of them, and brought together master works and less known works that could speak across any language barriers. Love, Anguish, Awe, Triumph, Joy. He chose those. And it worked. I was not there, but the reviews were glowing. It is said that some people even left the exhibit in quiet tears. Others exuberant. Art can do that.

Think about it though from an artist's perspective and it becomes akin to alchemy in the making of it. Do you go in to work each day wanting, no needing, to stir the core of human emotion? Think a minute on that. Think of how you set out each day. Underlying an artist's day are some questions like this: Does that brush conjure up the impact I am after, or perhaps do those chords move across the heart as someone tries out a new riff? How about those words for a writer, do they move anyone to anything? For a dancer, is that dance the one that leaves an audience breathless?

Hm. Can be daunting. Especially if judgement comes in too early. If I were to judge this piece that I worked on yesterday, in these very early stages, I would tear it up and start over again. It felt unsteady, strange, uncomfortable. Oh, the first bits of yellow ( I needed that yellow) were exuberant, free. I like those. But others, felt tentative, different. It was not until I got down in the lower left corner that I suddenly heard the brush as it stroked across the paper. I dipped once more into some terre vert, mixed a dab of ultramarine and dragged in some sepia too. I slowly smiled as I heard the sound, those strokes beating out a rhythm. It's a cheaper brush, some paint I had not used much lately, terre vert can be quirky, and yet there in that shaded part, the heart beat started.

Not pretty, a little edgier, and with shapes that are still flat. And the paper is way too small. But a heart beat. A pulse. It's beginning in the shadows. This piece is pure instinct, pure just showing up and moving paint around. It feels odd. Somewhat familiar, and yet also strange. Not finished , not polished, not even drawn. But that sound, that sound I recognized that.

And I can build something on it.

No this piece is far from ideal. But there is sky that is light and whispering already. Here will be a gentle flow. Brush, put your boots back on and listen, listen carefully. Stay close, we're going back in. Looking for that heart beat and some passion...


A Brush with Color said...

Ooooh--it's looking beautiful and off to a great start! I love your description of how it feels and whether or not you're in a comfort zone at certain points. It's good to know even talented people feel that way! LOL

Janice C. Cartier said...

LOL, I think if you polled *talented* people, you would find we feel this way a good part of the time. If we are really pushing ourselves that is. The zone, always looking for the zone. And it's a little bumpy off the beaten path. ;-)