Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MacGyver would be proud

We're talkin' duct tape in the studio today.


As in, what is a good idea - what "sticks" with people?

I've been reading this book

and it has me thinking about my art in new ways.

For the past year I have been working to define my art - what makes it unique? What sets it apart? I've been wrestling with my artistic vision; it is a process of pruning - subtraction of that which might be wonderful but does not align with the overarching concept, all the while trying to define the concept in concrete terms.

Reading this book helped me to understand why I was so successful as a teacher even though I felt that I was not really "wired" for this profession. I intuitively brought "sticky" concepts to my teaching. I boiled down the big concepts to clear, simple ideas and made them relevant; I offered concrete examples, told stories, and was often unexpected. It worked.

It has been harder to apply these principles to art. I know that what sets me apart is my ability to see more - to make connections, especially things that others don't notice, hence my tag line on my web page: Bringing the unnoticed into view. After reading this book, I have pruned this idea to: Revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary. This concept feels more "sticky" to me because it's at the core of what I do and is very concrete. (Because this process is a work in progress, I give myself permission to further tweek it.)

How do I apply this to each piece I am working on? I'm using it like a checklist:
Does it fit the core vision?
Does it tell a story?
Something unexpected?
Then, of course, being art it must be designed and executed well.

Here's an example of this process:

I shared photos from the Centennial Trail this spring that told a compelling story about the beautiful flamboyance of youth contrasted with the less glamorous, abiding endurance of age. The painting above is a resulting study.

But it is a bit ho hum. Applying my checklist, I have a couple of thoughts. My idea is not concrete enough, does not tell enough of a story. I have decided to add a couple of figures - a grandpa with a young child, symbolized in the painting with the age-old sturdy tree and the spring wild daisies.

I've done a value study and I like the design. Now we'll just see if I can pull off the technical aspects of the actual painting.

Speaking of books - here is another thought provoking book you might be interested in:

It actually also inspires me to persevere, to not be complacent, to level it up. It's what MacGyver would do!

1 comment:

  1. And you inspire me. Always. Thanks for the book recommendations. (I placed library holds on both.) Keep the good ideas (and paintings!) coming. :)