For many of you there are so many thoughts, recommended
paths, and uncertain visions floating around that the "spark" is
nowhere to be found, dashing any hope that you will be able to
take care of it.
Whether or not this is the case, it's always great to
get away from everything and to be alone with paper and pencil,
noting your visions down as you allow yourself to dream.
I don't mean anything like
finished drawings, rather just little doodles of ideas.
When I am thinking up an
idea for a painting I might do this 15, 20, or 30 times--simply
jotting down the visuals that pop into my head.
Those little pieces are
your personal visions, or sparks.
I think of creating a
painting as a succession of sparks. Every color, every set up,
every gesture, every subject should give you some excited
feeling. If what you are looking at, or imagining, doesn't make
you feel anything, you are guaranteed not to inspire yourself or
anyone looking at your work. It's simple really: if you don't
feel it, keep hitting the "delete" button until something
takes--and that is your signal to go that way!
The map of art is riddled
with dead ends and painful detours. Commissions and photography
should be labeled with the warning:
Spark Killers Ahead Proceed
with Extreme Caution.
If you are concerned about
nurturing your love for art, do not take commissions. The lure of
a healthy payment will never make up for all the compromises
that commissions promise. Not only that, but once you create a
successful commission, sitters will be knocking down
your door and your dream of realizing your personal visions will
be buried under layer after layer of forgettable portraits.
The other spark killer is
relying on or using photography as a starting point. I know it
offers conveniences but the cost of it is that you will never
connect your fragile spark with your perceptual awareness,
i.e. with being there. Photography is a ruthless and unforgiving
tool for a painter; it will leave its mark on every aspect of
your painting, forcing you to abandon your spark for its lurid,
Don't just trust me on
this, experiment with it yourself. Do a piece from some exciting
living example and do something solely from a photograph--and
compare them with this question in mind: which of them is more
Far too often painters take
their spark for granted and take paths which simply cannot lead
to their personal happiness in art. Don't make this mistake.
Approach art like a child and take great care with the
fountainhead of your art. You will be rewarded with a
lifelong joy of being an artist.
I hope you enjoyed this
little trip on seeing art in a fresh way.
New York, December 13th, 2006