Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Red Man: Art and Judgment

Red Man

One late night in my studio not long after I had moved in, I placed a new canvas on my easel and started painting when my feelings about what I was doing started to spiral out of control.

I used the wrong paints and the wrong colors. I tried to paint one of my female figures in red but it came out hideously deformed and ended up looking like a twisted man. Looking at the mess I had created, I quickly closed the door to my studio and cried. Just who the hell was I to think that I was any kind of artist at all? I felt so foolish and I felt like a fraud. As a self taught artist whose works are a spiritually based expression of my soul, it is all too easy to feel intimidated by the quality of work being created by my peers - mostly because of my assumptions that the rules they've learned about artmaking somehow makes their art better than mine.

That night I pulled that piece from my easel and hid it because it was just to painful of a reminder of all the things I felt I was lacking as an artist.

Pushing Out.

Then one day, I decided to pull it back out. I could have easily painted over the whole thing but decided against it. The only thing I painted over was the Red Man because I was determined to not let him get the best of me. The blue circle came first, and then the white hand. I can remember two older women poking their head into my studio as I was pulling my hand away from the canvas. They did not seem very interested in my work and quickly moved along down the corridor. At times like this, it makes me feel as though the vulnerabilities I reveal through my expressions have no value. (Gentle Reminder To Ego: Create for ME and no one else! Also, try working with your studio door closed.)

In every workshop I teach, and with every person I coach, I talk about creating without judgment. Creating art because it feels good and resisting the urge to judge the final product. People often put a great deal of pressure on themselves with regards to quality - that something isn't worth doing if it's not done well.

At times, it feels as though I am at constant war over my wanting to create and wanting to please.

Back to working on this piece

The hand felt significant. As if it somehow represented my my willingness to reach out and touch the most challenging parts of my existence. Some time later, I added the black.

Red Man

More time would pass and I would add the red - a reminder that the Red Man lives within all of us.


Lastly, I added all of the tribal elements and called it complete. This piece is currently available for purchase.


eleanor said...

Great ending:-)

Jeanne-Sylvie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings! As a self-taught artist, i totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

You seem very negative about art school and classes. There is nothing wrong with learning different techniques to help you express your personal vision better. If you refuse to learn some basic drawing and painting techniques - perspective, light/shade, pos/neg space, etc. I think you will ultimately find that your vision outpaces your ability to express it. Art technique is not supposed to kill your vision, it supposed to give you more tools and ways to express it.

Stephanie "Biffybeans" Smith said...

Anonymous, I appreciate your comments. While I don't think that I am negative towards art school and classes, I do admit holding a belief that some people can be led away from their visions by being exposed to someone else's (or an institutions) belief systems about art.

When I want to know something, I am not afraid to seek the necessary skill or knowledge to obtain it - but what I won’t do, is to do something because society deems it necessary. And that's where my mind gets tangled - I look at others work - their technical skill - and get confused that I am in some way lacking because I don't have what they have. But what I'm really doing is comparing apples to oranges. If I wanted to be a realist painter, I'd be one - by whatever means necessary. But I'm not. I enjoy patterns and primitive expressions because they FEEL good when I make them.

For what it's worth: The American Visionary Art Museum defines Visionary art as "....art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself." In short, Visionary art begins by listening to the inner voices and inner perception of the soul. It goes on to say that visionary art is a product of an inner process, and may not even be thought of as art by its creator”

Stephanie "Biffybeans" Smith said...

Thank you Eleanor & Reiko. :o)

taalumma said...

My beloved friend. I have received a formal tertiary education up to post-graduate level in the fields of the fine arts, religious studies and information technology. (I majored in printmaking and painting.) Please promise to gather strength and guard your heart against criticism and negative remarks. The feelings that are created by these means are built with words which signify realities in another's mind. I believe you are on a very special path. Thank you so much for sharing. To have the confidence and perseverence to create something from nothing remains the manifestation of a force of bravery. Hereby the mark of an artist bears truth. If it is recognised in your work, you have made contact in a very profound way. In my heart your journey is mine. Love...

Nancy said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Just what I needed to hear!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your emotions with us Stephanie. I gain inspiration from other self taught artists (not that I proclaim to be an artist yet)! But it's nice to know that you can create without so much knowledge. I believe a lot of it comes naturally...you either have it or you don't!

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