Friday, January 6, 2017

Commission, Discipline, Perfection and Chopin: An Artist Rejuvenation

I am working on a large commission and have had thought of never accepting a commission again.   A bit harsh but it's not that I haven't enjoyed working on it, it's just that I have a hard time painting on demand. I either have the inspiration or vision or don't, if I force it, it rarely works.

I've since changed my thoughts on commissions for several reasons. There is a wonderful aspect to the commission that I have only begun to realize: it's called concentration and discipline.

The only other time I have had to work through distractions was teaching painting. If you are teaching a student, it doesn't matter if you are having a problem with concentration, you have to maintain and teach the class. Discipline of mind is necessary to continue to paint in a scheduled time.

I have a short attention span when it comes to painting, I usually can have an hour with extreme concentration. I can paint longer if I work on multiple paintings because each time you switch to a new painting, it's a bit of a refresh.

An Older Commission

It's a matter of details. When you truly see a subject as it is without short cuts or assumptions, you can really get lost in the small details. I remember a recent student who learned to hate rocks, I feel her pain now in the details of water foaming.

If you look at a large area of foaming water it is a large nondescript white area, but as an artist you need to define the depth and the differences between tone and texture, it is the only way you can capture depth and make the image appear to the viewer in a way that makes sense. Also the colors change and the movements are different, the artist needs to pull these insignificant changes to the eye and make the viewer realize what they are seeing.

When it works, it is quite a magical experience. In this exercise of painting this most recent commission, I have forced myself to push beyond what is acceptable and trying to capture what I actually see. It forces me to see the painting and the subject so much deeper and intensely than I have in the past.

To add another aspect of the creative experience, I have started to listen to Chopin during the process. What I've learned is my lines are sharper and clearer and I stay in the mode longer. I will experiment more with other classical music but I think I'm on to something new.

It's been a difficult year for my art, lots of photography and writing but not as much art. I am excited to see the next series of paintings having more disciplined approaches to my subject, a deeper understanding of what I am actually trying to say and a bit of classical music as the cherry on top. I'm excited to see where the new direction will take my art.