Monday, April 22, 2013

Some Musings

Most of what I know as an artist, I learned through trial and error. I am mostly self taught, with some technical skills learned through workshops taken with artists I respect. These two artists, although teaching the workshop together, have very different personal styles, and yet they used the same techniques.

I find what brings me the deepest joy is collages and mixed media artwork. Yet, I have a struggle going on inside of me - is it "real art"?

If I collage a tree on a piece of work, does that lower the art value (not thinking monetary here)? If I see something another artist did, and incorporate that into something I produce, does that mean I can't think of my own ideas? Does it therefore become less?

I don't care for actually drawing, even though I have done a couple of things that show what you might call "traditional art" with recognizable objects, in fact I am working on one now, but that is not my favorite way of expressing myself. I find it limiting, like staying in the lines in a coloring book, something I'm sure many of us were chided to do when we were children. I like to be able to go where the paintbrush takes me, to mix colors together with free abandon and see joy when I finish. It's not always as good as I had hoped, but it's a step forward.

I remember the somewhat bittersweet story of Van Gogh, who was very misunderstood in his time - he did not paint like anyone else, but he was driven to let what was inside of him come out the way it needed to. He only sold one painting in his entire lifetime and he was laughed at by most other successful artists who painted in the "acceptable" way. When Renoir and other painters became what was later called Impressionists, they were shunned by society as being too rebellious, because they did not follow the school of acceptable art of his time. They were laughed at, mocked, could not get a gallery showing of their collected works and yet, they persevered.

I am not comparing myself to Van Gogh or Renoir. But I am struggling with my chosen way of expression. There are great oil paintings and there are many more cheesy oil paintings. There are collage and mixed media works which move you with color and expression and there are many more cheesy, cutsie collages and mixed media pieces.

One of the artists in the workshops I took stated early on that nothing any artist does can be called a pure original. We are influenced by what we see around us - shapes, other art work, color, nature, architecture, stains, decay, movement and passion.

My painting style has been rebuffed by people I care about - "That's not my style" and there is no interest in learning what is going on in the painting. Others, rather than showing interest, turn the conversation towards themselves, complaining about their lack of creativity,  I've learned and am still learning, I need to keep some of this to myself. If someone is interested, I'm excited to share with them, but otherwise I don't anymore.

What brought this to a climax for me was an excited comment about something I did, and the asking about where the inspiration came from. It involved another artist's piece, which had a couple of elements I liked and expressed in my own way. The disappointment and letdown upon hearing that explanation was like a knife in my side. "Oh, I thought it was original with you". I found myself suddenly defending my artwork, and that shouldn't ever happen. I should not have to argue that yes, what I did was really art, not just copying another artist. It's been festering in me ever since and I began to question everything I have been doing.

But my level headed husband, with his wisdom, reassured me that what I did was wonderful, and he envied the fact that my mind did not have to have a "model", that my feelings spilled onto the piece I was doing and that the particular piece in question was not copying and that to him it was beautiful.

I love to admire the works of others, others who express themselves in their own way. I have my own way, and I will continue to express myself and grow in it. It's a gift I was given from the greatest Creator of all time and I thank Him that He puts things in front of me to move me one more step in my passion, to climb higher on the mountain, to see how what I draw from others can be expressed anew in something I make.

I know this has been rambling, but it's been good for me to get it out. When I ask for a critique, I should expect to get one, otherwise, I shall enjoy what I do and revel in the gift God gave me. And yes, this is "real art"!

Click on the photo to see anything closer.
Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!


  1. Thoughtful post .
    I guess it's just not something I've thought much about. My art comes from the heart.I paint,draw,collage and do whatever makes me content.I find the critics family,friends etc.,either have no creative ability or wouldn't know a good piece of art if they saw one.
    I am happiest when I'm doing my art ,if it sells,great but I don't expect everyone to like what I do.The important thing is I like it and I'm happy! Hugs

  2. It is so hard not to be hurt by some comments -but as Amy said - if your art makes you happy - no one else has to get you or get it! It is hard to forget the words that hurt (they probably didn't intend to hurt) - now, I just have to remind myself of these words too!!!!! I think we all suffer from self-doubt at times. I, for one, love your work, Rebecca, & wish I could sit at your side & play one day!


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