Sunday, October 28, 2007

The last to know

Sometimes the artist is the last one to recognize when a work is good.

My advisor while I was a student at Mass Art, Dan Kelleher, told me often that an artist needs a few trusted people to visit the studio on a regular basis and offer advice. This person doesn’t necessarily have to be an artist, just someone who can be trusted to be honest and impartial, and who has a discerning eye for what’s working visually and what’s not.

My friend Carol O’Malia visited my studio a while back, and she was kind enough to look over the new paintings I had lined up and give me her opinion. She stopped dead at the painting pictured above, and said that one was really working and suggested I make more like it.

Weird, I thought to myself. That one was just something I threw together while I was waiting for some others to dry. I hadn’t really thought much about it, before during or after making it. (Another lesson I learned here, a real "David Carradine in Kung Fu" moment: too strong an attachment can squeeze the life out of a painting.)

Anyway, I took Carol’s advice and made a number of paintings in this style in different sizes. Boy, was she right. Two of them (this one included) have sold, and I’ve shown another version as part of a triptych in a recent exhibit that got some great feedback.

Without Carol’s suggestion, I never would have thought to pursue this direction. I had discounted it because it seemed “too easy” to make, it went together too fast. I'm glad I listened to her!

This work is called “Silken Web 1” – it is acrylic and fabric collage on canvas, and measures 28” H x 20” W.


Anonymous said...

I went through a week long exercise in art school to unlock what style comes naturally for me. It was like a more structured process than the epiphany you are describing. The assignment was to keep a small book with you of stapled together paper (3x5 inches or so) and to doodle in it all week. Look at the shapes you use and the compositions you create naturally. The artist who taught the class's opinion was that this was the key to unlocking one's "visual language." For me it was life changing and now my art comes easily for me. I hope you find this idea useful too.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you for this idea. I read today in a drawing textbook the concept that a sketchbook serves the artist in the way that a journal serves the writer. I appreciate your response.