If creative momentum is the impetus for faithful presence, then authentic process is its fuel. Art making is a process of discovery and response. It grows out of a mind that has sensitized itself to the world and the materials it uses to create. Art and meaning grow in an organic manner as worldview, material, and experiences swirl together. Authentic process means relentless making, always working with a mind open to possibilities, and seeking to find the truth through creating. The artist is not so much a “translator” who disseminates his message into a new language (art), as he is a conductor arranging and directing disparate elements into harmonious patterns. He is a curator of experiences and thoughts. His own message tints and shapes the direction of his inquiry, but his art should tell the truth as he finds it.
What are your thoughts? How does authentic process figure in your own work?
The artistic process is maddeningly capricious. One of the best ways I have found to deal with this frustration is to just show up for work every single day. I force myself to draw when I feel like it and when I don’t, when it’s working and when I know it’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever made. When I only worked once or twice a week my process was fragmented and I wasted most of my art time warming up, trying to generate ideas, and getting focused. Working every day keeps the engine running and now ideas come faster than I can use them and I find myself wanting to create in every spare moment. When I am able to find a half hour here or there it’s now enough time to make something since I’m already mentally prepped to start. I’ve started to think of this as maintaining creative momentum. Being married to a musician who practices on a daily basis and who can see a noticeable decline in her proficiency after even a week of not playing has helped me see the importance of spending time each day working on my art. One of the most important character traits of an artist is faithful presence, and creative momentum is only one facet of that trait. I will discuss other aspects of faithful presence in the weeks to come.
What are your thoughts? What are ways you have found to deal with the frustrations of being a creator?
Will Eisner’s “The Origin of the Spirit” Page 2
An analytical paper I wrote on the comic page above:
The interplay between form and function is at the heart of every art form and comics are no exception. Will Eisner on page two of his “Origin of the Spirit” demonstrates perfectly how the form of a comic book can give us the experience of the narrative before we read a word and expand the way storytelling functions. As our eye skims the page, we are subconsciously prepped to process the story. This page depicts the story of the universal struggle between good and evil at the dramatic moment in which it seems as if evil may be winning. Eisner uses the entry points to the page, the art style, and the panel format to highlight this struggle in a way that transcends language. These formal elements communicate the meaning of the page-fear for the hero, before a single word is read. Continue reading
I recently had the pleasure of being told that a drawing I made in response to a friend’s music really connected with the spirit of their art. It reminded me of something that’s easy to forget in the pursuit of excellence. I’m not doing this to be the best, and I don’t have to revolutionize the art world or have the best drawing technique to make good art. I just have to be authentic to the impulse of what I’m responding to and the direction of my artistic voice. Ultimately connecting with individuals and sharing in their creative process has to be more fulfilling than being at the top of the creative hierarchy.
What are your thoughts? Have you had an experience like this?
“Little Moth” Graphite and Gouache on Paper
A drawing to illuminate the beautiful song “Little Moth” by Melissa Margaret Thorson.
Little moth flying in the air How I wish that I could be As free as you seem
As you dance and flutter Past my window in the dark Oh where are you going
Or do you even need to know
Little moth looking for a candleflame Or a lamp on a table
In a room somewhere
Are you searching for some brightness You can dance around
Oh what are you looking for Or do you even need to know
Do you need to know
What that brightness will look like
Do you need to know
How you’ll recognize it when it comes Do you need to know
If you’ll live to dance another day
Or be swallowed up and burned away
Little moth I saw you passing by
Here and there and gone again
Won’t you come again some other day And share with me the brightness That makes magic for your wings
Oh how can you dance like that Or do you even need to know
© 2014 Melissa Margaret Thorson
You can find a video of her performing another wonderful song “Follow the Thread” here.
Fine artists, or gallery artists, are like the theologians of the art world. They spend their lives studying theory, exploring the fringes of possible thought, and doing work that is important but not necessarily practical. They form strong opinions on obscure issues while other artists and craftsmen just live their lives being graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, potters etc. These other artists dabble in the theory and the work of gallery artists affects them as they live and work in the every day reality of life. This is not to say that one is better than the other any more than a seminary professor is more holy than a pastor or a pastor is more holy than the devout members of his congregation. It has to do with division of labour. There are those with their head in the clouds who want, and need, to wrestle with abstract metaphysical question and there are those who just love creating and have found a way to make a living doing it. It’s a symbiotic relationship between theoretician and practitioner that yields beautiful art with aesthetic and conceptual depth.
What do you think?
Hand ground Sumi ink, coffee, tea, oxide ink, blue acrylic ink, and bottled Sumi ink on watercolor paper. 3.5″x15″
Graphite and hand ground Sumi ink on watercolor paper. 3.5″x15″
Hand ground Sumi ink, coffee, and graphite on watercolor paper. 3.5″x15″
More from my Tower of Babel/Choruses from the Rock series. I created these drawings as I began to consider what it means to be dispersed after Babel. Connected to that idea of dispersion and desolation is the line from Choruses, “Their only monument the asphalt road/And a thousand lost golf balls.”
To disperse means to distribute or spread over a wide area, or to cause to go in different directions or to different destinations.
In looking back through my journal I found an entry from almost a year ago where I had written down the way I wanted my drawings to function. “My drawings should be concrete symbols of an objective reality. A reality indisputable in its realness, yet mysterious in its meaning. Confident symbols of a great mystery.”
What do you think?
Inktober: an ink drawing a day for the next 31 days.
I will be participating in Inktober this month! I will post the daily drawings on my tumblr which you can find here. This is a great way generate creative momentum and be part of a larger community of artists. It’s not too late to join!