|Mountains of Strawberries|
20" x 20" acrylic on canvas
The pieces are all started the same way. I have a design and it is drawn onto the canvas. I have a loose idea of the colors that I want to use. I start placing colors and pretty soon, I am off the grid! I have deviated from The Plan. Generally this is fine but sometimes it produces a crisis of faith. Should I be doing something else? Will I always produce this type of painting if I am always starting in the same way? Are my color decisions stale? What if I just completed one section at a time? Would I just have 5-6 different sections that didn't relate to each other? One of the things that I think makes these pieces cohesive is that the same color is scattered throughout the piece-I vary the position, size of the piece, and chroma/value. What if I didn't do that? Ack!
I really like the random outcomes of these pieces. I have no way of knowing what the final piece will look like. No idea how the shapes and colors will look next to each other and in the context of the piece as a whole. If I change my process then what?
Anyhow, this is what I was thinking about as I made my piece. The bottom line is if you think you are having some success (or having failure) should you switch things up? Have I mentioned The Helsinki Bus Station Theory? It's from an article titled The Proven Path to Doing Unique and Meaningful Work by James Clear. (It's OK, I didn't know who he was either. Take a minute to read about what James Clear does.) The Bus Station Theory is a good one. It addresses the question many of us artists have about doing unique and meaningful work and what can happen when we let the work of others lead us astray from doing that work. It's a good read for anyone thinking about copying someone else's work and how NOT TO DO THAT! It's also a good read for those of us who feel insecure or doubtful about our creative paths and look to others for guidance. Honestly, a person needs this article (and the theory).
What about it then? The upshot of this article is that every time I think about switching up what I am doing or if I look at someone else's work and think Could I do that too? I remind myself about staying on the bus. My bus. My own bus line. (Hint, hint. James gives the answer about how to make your own work unique.) I specifically ask myself if I am about to get on a different bus. Lots of times I can answer no, I am not getting on another bus. But, I know it was a close call! I almost did.
So, read James's article. He is a good writer with a reasonable and measured voice. The theory is sound too. And good luck!
Thanks for reading,