Where are you going with that?

Creativity, as the saying goes, is a lot like a shark.

There have been periods of my life when I drew obsessively: in high school, the year after college, the last two years of graduate school.  And periods when I drew very little.  During the obsessive periods I was usually trying to work something out.  First how to draw a face from a photograph.  Later how to catch something quickly in a few lines.  The last three years I’ve been trying to learn something about color.  And then I’ll feel like I’ve figured something out.  And then I won’t want to draw anymore.

I know my artwork isn’t where I want it to be.  I can see people working at a much higher level.  But I don’t know how to get there.  I don’t even know how to articulate what it is I need to work on.  Maybe its that I need to “develop a personal style.”  But I hate that phrase.  It suggests that I need to make things that all look the same.  And I can’t think of a better way to stop painting than to try to turn out a consistent product.

I keep whining to David that I need a teacher, or a mentor, or a community of some sort to help me get some direction.  But I haven’t really found that here yet.

So in the absence of any of those things, I’m going to try to give myself some direction.  Here are some of the things I want to work on this year: I want to learn to see an image in terms of the brushstrokes I’ll use to create it.  I want to overcome my fear of thick paint.  I want to add texture to the surface of my paintings.  And I want to learn to express depth. (The spatial kind, not the emotional one).

A lot of these things have grown out of sewing.  In drawing I am always trying to ignore the details and focus on big shapes. But what sucks me in about a piece of fabric is always its texture.  When I manage to put texture into a painting I can see people respond to it.  I love a painting that looks like some place and that also really looks like paint.  But it doesn’t come easily to me.  My inclination is to paint thin, save pigment, and keep control over the painting.  This year I’m going to try to let that go.

Sewing is also the first 3-D art I’ve done.  Part of the fun is trying to work out how to turn a 2-D shape into a 3-D form.  And now I’m trying to figure out how to make paintings that go back in space.  Part of what attracted me to the last three images was the glitter in the distance where you can’t quite make out what is going on.  Its funny that in a painting, space is created through texture.

So that’s my attempt to give myself direction.  Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post.  But what is the internet for if not airing your navel-gazing?

What about you?  What are you working on?  How do you keep yourself moving forward?