Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter and thanks to all who are following my blog for your support and encouragement. No painting post today, I'll post another on Monday.

I've been thinking lately about "intention" in art, whether a completed work of art can or should ever match what the artist intended at the beginning. Most artists I know (myself included) seem never really satisfied with what they create. For me, the process of painting itself is always the exciting part. The work in its incomplete state represents boundless possibility--the hope that something extraordinary may result. But as it nears completion (completion being the point when I can't come up with anything else to do to it) I inevitably begin to feel those creeping tendrils of disappointment. The finished painting, it seems, just NEVER quite matches the dream. And it doesn't matter if the dream was a carefully organized plan, or just the vaguest of notions.

I can't find the exact quote but the artist Jasper Johns once said something to the effect that an artist doesn't really do what they want to do, instead they do what they can't help but do.

But this helplessness in the face of one's art is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it may be the BEST thing about an artist's work: that it will never quite behave; that it develops a life of its own.
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"Accept that I can plan nothing...I often find this intolerable and even impossible to accept; because, as a thinking and planning human being, it humiliates me to find out that I am so powerless. It casts doubt on my competence and constructive abilities. My only consolation is that I did actually make the pictures--even though they are a law unto themselves, even though they treat me any way they like and somehow just take shape. Because it's still up to me to determine the point at which they are finished. (Picture making consists of a multitude of Yes/No decisions, with a Yes to end it all.)"

Gerhard Richter, German painter

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"You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open...No artist is pleased...

There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching--and makes us more alive than the others."

Martha Graham, dancer/choreographer

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1 comment:

Kelley MacDonald said...

Boy, this helped. It came at exactly the right time for me. Have been getting frustrated, comparing myself to other artists (not favorably) and impatient. This afternoon when I return to the easel I'm just going to see what happens!