Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Patience, pastels, and inspiration

I'm fighting the dregs of a cold that hindered my productivity last week, but it's the tail end of re-inventing the way I work so I welcome the forced slowness with which I've approached my latest painting. It's made the experience more fun and thoughtful, and less pressured.

The last two years since I've offered my work online I've pushed myself pretty hard, seeing so many artists do "a painting a day." For me, that's not the rate at which I paint. I do admire those who can paint that quickly and maintain a level of quality that's enviable! However, I'm about a painting a week, and even then, that rate was taking its toll on me.

Don't get me wrong. Making art is fun and it envelopes you until you lose sense of time. It's also a lot of work: I think all day as I run my errands and manage my business about color and shapes, striking images and subtle concepts. It looks like daydreaming, believe me, I know--but traveling the Imagination takes fortitude. Where do my images come from? Why the blue cats, why cherry trees (and can I say, trees are notoriously difficult because their branches go this way and that, all abstract and organic!)? How come that Buddha looks like that? Why choose that particular moment in a myth?

I seek my symbols. I meditate for them. I stare at my canvas until I see things. I gaze at the clouds until my eyes are open but I'm seeing the insides of my memories. I listen to rain until it tells me a story.

My teachers are many. I acknowledge them constantly in my work and in this blog and when I talk to collectors and art appreciators. Originality is important, and so is the foundation upon which it's built: I draw from both Asian and European roots because that's who I am, and that shows up in my style, subject matter and choice of media. I love the Impressionists and Expressionists, the Chinese masters and the Japanese printmakers, the anonymous Tibetan thangka paintings and the pop art of tiki and comics artists. I'm not done with the list, not by a long shot. My inspirations are many, and I only find it respectful to say "thank you" to them for teaching me about exciting color combinations, intriguing compositions, and how to explore the exotic landscape of my dreams.

A longtime favorite artist of mine is the French Symbolist, Odilon Redon. Fran├žois Peneaud introduced me to him, for which I will be forever grateful. Just tonight, on a gift-seeking mission for the winter holy days, I found yet another book on Redon at one of my favorite bookstores, Logos. It's all about his pastels!!! Yes, three exclamation points. His pastels are luminous and made of pure dreamstuff. It's a medium I would love to work with soon.

Inspiration is hard to come by; it's like being open to wonder 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If anybody (alive or dead) is going to make it easier for me, I will proclaim my gratitude and show my respect. Credit where credit is due.

Otherwise, I'd be just a copy cat.

Post a Comment