Monday, October 22, 2007

The psychology of a painting

I have neglected my blog terribly! I used to be so faithful with my posts. I don't know what has happened to me. I will make a concerted effort to write more often. The good news is that I have been painting. I organized a 4 hour drawing/painting session with a wonderful model on Saturday. We met here, at the new house. There were only 3 artists, but the intimacy of the group was actually very nice. I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

I did not finish my pastel painting, but I did take a photograph, so I think I will be able to finish it from that. Here is what I did.
I was working on a dark reddish paper, and as you can see, the left hand part of the painting is quite unresolved. I will try to post it, if I can get a bit more resolution.

I find that I tend to fight with my art quite a lot. I am not one of those painters who merrily paints or draws away. I struggle, I agonize. I believe it is part of the process for me. All of my inner turmoil seems to come to the surface, and makes itself known. Sometimes, it seems as though the paint is actually blood, drawn from my veins, painfully creating the image on the surface of the canvas or paper. This may sound rather exaggerated or dramatic to some of you, but I am trying to describe what the experience is like for me. That is how it feels! You might be wondering why I continue, with an experience like this. I will admit, there are times when I ask myself the same question. Yet, there is a catharsis to the release. I can honestly say that there is nothing that makes me feel the way creating art makes me feel. I need that feeling.

I think part of what comes out when painting is my own insecurity. I have such doubt and fear that I can create a painting that I will like, or that anyone will like, for that matter. "Why is this important?", I ask myself. It is important because I want validation. All the time and money I spend on making art needs some kind of justification for me. After all, it has taken up the bulk of my life, this obsession. You can't spend nearly 15 years of your life on something without needing some kind of progress report, some kind of pat on the back. But even after 15 years, I always doubt my capability as an artist. That insecure part of me fights with another part of me, who has confidence, even a bit of arrogance about my own ability. I don't think either side of me really wins, per se. Each side may score a "point" from time to time, but I think most of the battles end in a tie.

When I look at my work, I can see this conflict, this tug of war. I think it makes the art more honest, because I reveal all of myself. Not just the confident part, who knows I can do it. But that other, more fragile part, with all its doubts and fears. Isn't this really how all of us are, when we allow ourselves to see it? Perhaps it is the reason I love to paint human beings so much. I know, intimately, what it is to be a human being.


Anke said...

Oh yes that struggle, I know it. It's hard to let go. I need my art as well to get in balance again. It's such a great way to let go and have a break from everything, getting absorbed in the process. And of course I have times of inner insecurity too, sometimes more, sometimes less....maybe it is just normal for 'us' artworkers!?!

lee said...

I enjoyed your post, it is funny how I thought that nobody felt like I do. I feel insecure about my art all the time.And then you see all these great artists out there in blog land, yourself included and you wonder how will I ever get better. I am trying to tell myself that nobody is the same in the way they see things or paint, or draw and that what one says is good the other might not like. So thats my theme today. I am worried about your house and the fires are they anywhere near you....

Abby Creek Art said...

I think we artists are always struggling with self-doubt. In a way always makes us stretch ourselves to try harder.

I absolutely love your pastel painting, Karine. You are amazing with figurative work. I wish you would do more of it!