Back from a vacation in Florida to write a belated weekly post.
I spent my vacation with my husband and a couple of friends. We drew and painted one another and I was reminded of what art means to me and where I want to go with it.
It is best explained by showing the drawing of me that my friend did (Rina Cheah).
The drawing is simplified and stylized – it is not an exact replica of the subject and yet captures something both about me and about her that is much harder to see in real life because it is mixed with so many other things that are visible in a face (values, colors, changing facial expressions, freckles and so on). But to her, this was the most appealing and essential aspect of her subject. This, is what I think art is. Art is not camera-reproduction of what we see, nor recording of random occurrences – it is, rather, a way to make our soul take form through concretes. It is a Selective recreation of reality, according to the artist’s deepest values (to paraphrase Ayn Rand’s definition).
Her drawing has such innocent joy in putting down what was most important and appealing to her and that is what I strive to use as my motivation, especially once I finish my art education and work on projects whose subject is my choice. When inspiration is one’s motivation, combined with automatized skills – one is equipped to make great art.
People think that working from inspiration is easy and given, but I think it is rather rare. There are so many “traps” along the way: Paint to please people, paint to sell, paint to have a “name”, paint to surpass other artists in skill, paint to be considered “sophisticated” or be considered “a great artist” and so on. To paint from inspiration, to fall in love with what you paint and have that be your guide – actually takes a very selfish and individualistic approach.
To fight through all the difficulties, through seeming failure – to fall behind when some others do well instantly it seems – it takes strong and genuine motivation to disregard all of these and to devote one’s efforts to getting better – not for the sake of proving oneself, but for that passion that drives the making of great art (and is experienced by those who observe it).
If I live long enough and if depression, self-doubt or other difficulties won’t get me, I believe I will become successful. Not because I have some god given ability – I don’t – I actually started from scratch – but because I love what I want to make enough to focus on that and fight for it.
Lastly I want to share a painting I started over the summer of 2011. This was an uninstructed session and the model (who is also an artist) chose the pose – however, it might as well been me choosing the pose – I loved it so much when I saw it I could not believe that that was what I was going to paint. But indeed I did.
When I was done with the figure, I put an abstract background. Later I decided to make an actual background that would match the mood and narrative the pose as I saw it. Right now, the painting is at an awkward stage of having rough lines and colors indicating the objects to be painted without actually having them painted, so I will be sharing a previous version of this painting that no longer exists. For those of you interested, keep an eye out – by the end of this summer I’ll finish the background.
(Click to enlarge)