Are artists running away through their art? Is running away a good thing? So many people wish they could run away everyday. Few have the means. Artists do it daily.
Running away is generally thought of in a negative sense. Running away and escapism seem to be interchangeable to the vast majority of people who are not artists as though it is a bad thing. Runaways, who are not artists, do so as a last resort because something in life has become unbearable. Rather than deal with it, they run away, thus the negative stigma. If artists regularly escape into art it would indicate a positive action. As Tharp points out, we run away without leaving home.
In an entertaining travel blog called Nomadic Matt, the author states, “And, instead, I’m running towards everything – towards the world, exotic places, new people, different cultures, and my own idea of freedom.” He is making the argument for a lifestyle of running away. Even though it sounds exciting it is not always practical for most of us so we do it through art. Some artists are fortunate enough to do both. Being an artist may be one way to live a nomadic life. Maybe we are all nomads at heart. Some just stay home while running away.
I regularly run away to the swamp. I wonder where others run to?
CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday told the story of hugely successful art forger, Ken Perenyl. It appears that Perenyl has had an immensely lucrative career as a forger of the works of a number of mainly eighteenth and nineteenth century artists. He boastfully demonstrates his techniques for aging canvas and frames. Perenyl goes on to show the evidence of where Southby’s sold one of his forgeries for $650,000. Ken Perenyl has never come close to paying for the crime of forgery and deception even though the FBI did sniff around a bit at one time. Watching this left me feeling torn between admiration of his skill and disgust at his gleeful attitude toward his crimes.
Grossman LLP is a law firm that deals with issues in the art world. On the firm’s blog, Art-law-blog, is a recounting of the case of the owner of the New York art gallery of Salander-O’Reilly. Owner Salander was convicted of crimes of deception in the art world. He was driven into bankruptcy and is paying the price of his shady dealings. Yet Perenyl not only walks free, he brags about his crimes.
If we take Jackson Pollock’s quote as truth, what does that make Ken Perenyl? And why should we care? What effect if any, does this forger have on the majority of honest artists out there?
The heart speaks through art as any artist can attest but do others always hear? Does it matter as long as the heart speaks? Artists are driven to continue to speak whether anyone is listening or not. Does it matter to the artist whether or not his/her heart is heard? Is the point to give voice to the heart and not worry about whom, if anyone, is listening? No.
As long as an artist can make art, that is vital. However, when you have worked so hard to give the heart a voice, it becomes important to follow through and also make a way for that voice to be heard. The art is not complete until its voice has been heard. Frequently, for whatever reason, we neglect this part of the art equation. The heart is speaking. We must see that it gets heard.
Photographer Tom Kostas states, “Art and poetry have revealed more to me than any other field of study I have encountered, including philosophy, in my life.” What is revealed from the heart through art is important to pass on, to share.
Helping the heart get heard can be difficult for some artists, especially if introverted. Perhaps that makes it even more important to find a way to get heard. Does the heart break if we don’t carry the work all the way through to the end result of being heard? Art made in isolation and not put out for others to experience is like the tree that falls in the woods. Does it make a sound if no one is listening? Thoughts anyone??
Many artists become attached to paintings. Each painting is a self -portrait in a sense, regardless of subject. Creating a work can feel almost like birthing a child. It’s hard to abandon a painting for someone else to possess when so much of self is in it. Abandonment is painful. And once the painting is gone the abandonment is complete. Maybe we delay completion, to delay the pain of separation. Each artwork is the outward expression of an inner emotional reaction. It can be difficult to let go of that response. In some ways, it feels like abandoning our self to someone else.
Artist Emily Rose describes her process of emotional expression through her painting. Depending on the emotional space of the artist, as Emily Rose describes it, a painting can possess various levels of the manifestation of feelings. Likely, this same thing happens to many of us. A painting then becomes the outward symbol of our inner feelings. Letting go of a painting means letting go of inner feelings.
How do we objectively let go of paintings with feelings splattered all over them? How have other artists overcome this dilemma? Any suggestions?
Where is the stopping place on any painting? Does a red light come on and say, “Stop?” How do artists know where that place is? Ask any artist and you will likely get different answers. It is not easy to come to the finished place. There is always something more to do. It can be something small or something much bigger. It may be something that has to be looked at over time until the finishing touch finally makes itself known.
Agonizing over where to stop can be stressful enough to get out of the mental painting mode. Essentially, concern over the finish can be strong enough to keep pushing to the point where the painting loses spontaneity. To stop when the intuition says stop can take courage. It also takes listening to that little voice.
Artist Paul Gardner is quoted on Artpromotivate as saying, “A painting is never finished-it simply stops in interesting places.” Perhaps, that is a significant difference from the Leonardo quote. Instead of forcing abandonment can we accept the inner voice that says, “This is an interesting place to stop!” It could be so much less stressful to look for the interesting place than to face abandonment.
Reports say that Leonardo never found the finishing place in the Mona Lisa because he is said to have kept the painting with him throughout his life. Maybe he couldn’t abandon her.
When starting to paint, I always have an image in my head that I want to come out on the canvas. It never does. My hand must have its own brain. Or the neurons bumping around in my brain go haywire before they reach my hand. What appears under my hand is usually something wildly different from the original thought. However, this strange hand brain makes some fun things happen. Maybe my neurons start to dance before they reach my hand. My hand does its own dance on the canvas to some unknown tune my brain can’t hear. If I let go and permit the haywire neurons to continue the happy hand dance, my creation begins to take flight and become free.
However, if I fight the crazy neurons in my hands and work on something more controlled, it loses the spontaneity that gives a painting life and energy. The painting may become more true to form but has no spark.. A person commented on one of my paintings, where the dancing neurons made the hand paint a red lake instead of the more controlled and average blue-green of most lakes. This person said she didn’t think she had ever seen the lake in question look red. My thought was, “Of course not! You have to have dancing neurons to turn a blue-green lake red.” And why have a blue-green lake when you can have a red one? The red lake has life!
Houston artist, Alissa Fereday tweets some wonderful daily quotes on her twitter site, @ITweetart. Today’s quote is attributed to the Swiss artist, Paul Klee. Klee states, “The painter should not paint what he sees, but what will be seen.” I may see a blue-green lake but a red one will be seen when the dancing neurons take control of the painting hand.
The hard part is to continue to allow the neurons the freedom to transmit dance to the painting hand. Resist control. Dance on!!!