|Good Guys, Bad Guys|
image size 12" x 16"-
painted acrylic papers on watercolor paper
The above piece was completed a few days ago and is a riff on my last piece shown here. I wanted to use the same colors again but in different proportions. The piece began as a smaller paper sketch using scraps from the last project. I am not sure about everything but I do like the inclusion of more "biomorphic" shapes.
An Idea About Loosening Up.
Recently I read once again that another artist was trying to "loosen up". In the past, for a variety of reasons, I have been dismissive of this comment. I have negative connotations, stemming from my childhood, with both the phrase and the idea. At this point though, after hearing the phrase so many times in the art world, I'd like to understand just exactly how this directive can be applied to painting. There must be some merit in the idea if everyone is talking about it. It might pay to consider some ways in which a painter might loosen up or even conceive of the idea of loosening up. What could that look like?
When I hear the phrase, I tend to first think about the abandoning of any game plan. Does this mean then that a person paints something willy nilly, without any kind of a plan? I suspect that people believe creative types are very spontaneous. In reading a fair amount of artist interviews given by contemporary painters though, most of them say that they either start with a very detailed plan and leave themselves open to the possibilities of change or that they start a painting in an open ended fashion and continue to hone in on their ideas. Even an action painter has to prep a bit before they run up to attack the canvas. They at least have an idea of which section they are heading for with a loaded brush in hand. Their next mark might be a total surprise but it's likely based on the last mark.
Another approach would be that painters abandon any sorts of "rules" that have been established through the ages. Things like rules based on the color wheel, design set ups, and rules regarding how to avoid tangents. Personally I tend to think about about edges and color usage. I admire painters who handle edges in a variety of ways. And I admire painters who seem to make their colors sing without shouting. Are those loose qualities? Did they just happen spontaneously, emerging out of the artist's brain without any practice or thought?
The phrase could also mean a relaxing of standards. Just do what you feel regardless of the outcome. This idea has some merit also. Perhaps it is the closest thing to someone realizing their creative vision. But what about craftsmanship and skill and learning? What if what comes out isn't exactly what the artist wants? What about people's perceptions?
Myths of any sort are tricky to grasp. They can explain any number of real events or tangible visions or even vague ideas. They can even help to dispel something that isn't true. What then does it mean to loosen up? I wonder if people could really mean that they want to somehow advance their painting skills but don't really know how. Or maybe they don't really know how to articulate that vague feeling of dissatisfaction, of wanting to paint differently, to make better paintings, or to somehow enjoy the process more. I almost wonder if people say the phrase because they don't quite know what else to say? Or it is something that is expected? We do those sorts of things. Sometimes phrases are just a starting point for a larger discussion. Or even an excuse to look inward more closely for personal and meaningful answers to a very complex question. So the next time you use this phrase, consider what you really mean. What are you trying to actually say? It's worth a thought I think.
If you have something to add please let me know. I am always interested in adding other viewpoints to my database of ideas. And I will probably write about this topic again soon:)
Thanks for reading and commenting.