Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Art, Fear and Boredom

I'm reading a book right now called Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins. I'm only 15% into it but so far it's good. This paragraph...

"Torrance believed creativity could exist in all areas of life and that anyone could be creative. The more research he did, however, the more he discovered how difficult it was to be creative in certain settings, particularly schools. He also observed how creative individuals tended to struggle in systems that forced them to comply to rules they didn't understand. "The creative kids are the ones who rail against the rules the hardest," said Bonnie Cramond, a former student of Torrance, in summary of her teacher's findings. "Creative kids have no patience with ridiculous rules. They don't see any purpose in it." Professor Torrance concluded that following the rules does not produce outstanding creative work. If you aren't willing to be a little deviant, then it's harder to be creative. Sometimes it pays to break the rules."

makes a lot of sense to me. I still rail against stupid rules. My kids always railed against stupid rules and still do. This is something that can be difficult to get across to my art students. Like society, art has certain rules. You learn these when learning the basics in art school - composition, color theory etc.... Of course you can be creative within the boundaries of the rules but once you've been living and painting by those rules for a long time you itch to break them. If not break them, then at least bend them.


This is what holds us back. It's something I work on all the time. How can I do something different, something new? I think this is where working in a series is a really good thing. I've been painting the bird nests for a while now. Folks like them, some love them enough to buy them! Yay! What happens then? Fear of doing something different and then people might not like them anymore.


This is what catapults us into doing something else. The first time I painted a nest I was so excited! Each one I paint still excites me but after a while it gets like - meh - I've done this the same way before. When you've painted the same subject dozens of times, that's when the itch starts. You start to look for a different way to express that subject. That's when you look at things from a different angle- try different lighting, different background, close up view, long view.

That's when it's time to push.

How do you do that? One of the things I started doing is daily paintings. Every day that I'm in the studio I start the day with a little 4x4 or 4x6 painting. It can be anything. Today will be #20. I'm not just doing bird nests, I'm doing anything I feel like that morning. So far it's been a mix of landscapes and nests because those are my main 2 subjects anyway. I'm painting scenes that I've done before but making them a little bit different from the way I did them the first time.

I might push color, trying a different palette or exaggerate the color of a landscape. I might try a different shape or angle on a nest, I might do a new subject like the feathers and see where that goes....

So today my thoughts are - let boredom be a catalyst. And when you get bored don't let fear keep you from bending a few rules, push through. Who knows where it'll lead. And what I know about myself is, I need to push harder.