Saturday, May 7, 2011

Getting Self Out of the Way

"Painted Desert in Reds", 6x6" pastel study, under-painting in reds

"It does not matter how badly you paint, just so long as you don't paint badly like other people."
~George Edward Moore

The above quotation made me snort with laughter! I often tell myself that it's OK to paint badly before I go into the studio. That way I establish that I'm there just to play and express, and whatever needs to be manifested will. I can judge it later...there's always plenty of time for that. But if I can enjoy the process without the terrifying pressures of perfection, giving myself the freedom to explore problem-solving decisions with childlike enthusiasm as I go, the painting seems to progress a great deal more in the right direction.

Some paintings may turn out well, others not so well...but all are a part of the process of getting "self" or the "inner-critic" out of the way to let a larger Being or Vision emerge. The process of painting involves letting go and trusting as much as it does reacting with small critiques of the progress. It's often a difficult balance to maintain, but the rewards are usually always worth it!

To clarify, this does not mean I expect to paint poorly...but rather, I give myself permission to paint in new ways that I may not think of as "good" or up to par with how I currently paint. In this way, I can free myself of weighty expectations that would impede my explorations and discoveries of new paths to painterly expression.

As for not painting like anyone else...well, most of us artists are non-conformists, thinking and living on the edge of society. Most of us aren't attempting to copy anyone else; we all have the capacity to paint as fiercely individual as we are. However, I have noticed that the less experienced artist often struggles with his or her preconceived notion of the expected outcome of a given painting. (And, even some of us more experienced artists do, from time to time!) When the expected results are not achieved, art students in particular are often gravely disappointed and think the painting, or themselves, a failure.

"Painted Desert Purples", 6x6" pastel study, under-painting in violet

However, this self-defeating attitude is attempting to paint like another...or at least another idea of painting that's inside your inner-critic and what the expected "norm" is to your self. And, that is simply not how YOU really paint...which is often why the disparity begins. We must nurture the creative essence that is our Being and free it to be, without judgement or self-criticism, or we must always battle between painting as we think we should and painting our own vision of the universe. The challenge is to let go regularly enough so as to discover how it is you do really paint...and love it! This takes time and patience with our materials, and practice, practice, practice! Artists constantly evolve and we have to love where we are today. We won't paint that way again, tomorrow.

Some days I do this better than others. But, giving myself permission to paint badly leads me towards new painting adventures of big skies of individual expression and open roads of creative discovery. See you there!

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