Creative Alchemy of Making Unfettered Art. Part 1 – Visual Art

One of the glass barriers I want to shatter every time when creating art, is my own inhibitions. That blank canvas, tabula rasa, that snow-white endless blank computer screen or empty writing page either begs an artistic watermark or taunts me to sully its virginal purity.

Basic colour theory exercises with acrylic paints. Photo by J.Chong
Basic colour theory exercises with acrylic paints. Photo by J.Chong

Making Art, Take a Risk of Falling
Last year, a blogger-writer and illustrator extolled the virtues of writing, creating your art in an unfettered quick pace. No self-judgement. Stop perfecting that turn of words, that delicate paint stroke of precision. Stop trying to plan, procrastinate on your artistic vision before you start.  Otherwise, you’ll take forever to take those few baby steps because you’re so afraid of falling.

Artist at work. Kalihiuai Beach. Kauai Island. Hawai'i 2002. Photo by J.Chong
Artist at work. Kilihiuai Beach. Kauai Island. Hawai’i 2002. Photo by J.Chong

Though most of us don’t have memory of learning to walk, we might have early memories of other things. For me, it’s  learning to bicycle when I was 11 years old or learning English when I was 5 years old. Both skills required someone guiding me initially.

I finally learned to bicycle maybe after a month or longer, without a sister propping me up on the bike beside me, while I pedaled along.  I can’t remember that magic moment of suddenly cycling unaided.

Executing a good art piece can be that same magic:  a picture or written piece suddenly just tumbles out of yourself like a rainbow soap bubble.

Rushing Life Waters. 2015 Multimedia painting. By J. Chong
Rushing Life Waters. 2015 Multimedia painting.  Wedding gift for a family member.  By J. Chong

Euphoria of Fusing Vision and Execution
There have been moments of piercing diamond successes, when one is lost in painting or writing after diving in the air with wings. I can’t know about composing music but it must the same sensation.

In between, just some hard work, some disasters or just insipid pieces.

Loose Idea, Sketchy Plans and Basic Rituals

Experimenting with block tissue prints over prepared painted canvas.
Experimenting with block tissue prints over prepared painted canvas.

For making visual art, there is some preparation. It’s required ritual:  clean my working art table surface, protect it with clean blank newsprint, lay out 2-3 brushes of different sizes, yogurt containers of clean water and canvasses I’ve already laid on primary colour (red, yellow or blue) base wash or stroke.

Block print tissues that I’ve made with colour shapes, strokes and splashes guide me.  I save even scraps of tissue shapes as bridging connections or patches for a missing link in a large piece.

Nature Cathedral. Mixed media painting 2016. By J.Chong
Nature Cathedral. Mixed media painting 2016. By J.Chong

Over-Planning Leads to Dried-Up Failure and Mud
This type of art I don’t plan much at all.  It’s a lot of incidental, fresh colour, shape and line movement that steer my vision, my hands.  I must work quick enough because layers of wet paint colours reveal new semi-transparent colour combinations and new shapes.  I must capture all this and learn not to cover up a new exquisite fusion of colour.

Inuit Fabric art landscape. Touring art exhibit. Calgary 2015.
Inuit Fabric art landscape. Touring art exhibit. Calgary 2015.

My worst pieces are muddy coloured,  like shapeless  dirt puddles.  Better artwork jumped out like fireworks, after I flipped on a small colour swatch last minute, that became a rosy mountain glowing summit.  Or a near-disastrous spill of shapes was saved, when I threw on a flecked piece that became a shower of flowers down a mountain side, in a painting.

Self portrait. Done when 15 yrs. old. Since then haven’t taken any drawing lessons. A foundational skill for other art.

Art Soul Jumping and Breathing in Zen-Swimming  in Heart and Head
Becoming lost in making art, is taking a soul-jumping risk for several hours. It could be for several days, months.  Awhile ago I used to do Western ink calligraphy with traditional steel nib dip into inkpot method.   It began with a ritual of laying out black ink pot and steel pin nibs for chiselled letters with graceful feet and overhead swirls.  Executing hand calligraphy was like yoga movements –right posture (feet flat on the floor, do not cross your legs),

Friends and family received of used to receive illustrated, hand calligraphy designed Christmas cards. Approx. 1993. By J. Chong
Friends and family used to receive my illustrated, hand calligraphy designed Christmas cards. Approx. 1993. By J. Chong

handwriting angle (30 degrees) and rhythm in writing movement.  I occasionally fell so much in love in making mesmerizing letter shapes, that I ended up with a spelling error.  A blot on an otherwise, perfect sentence, poem.

Suspend Self-Criticism: Better Path to Artistic Action
Creating the best art can be often, suspending linear logic and self-criticism. For awhile, you are swimming, not exactly for your life, but breathing a creative rhythm only you can hear roaring in your head.  Meanwhile there is a strange, calm centre in your heart. Usually I feel incredibly alive and in the moment.  Occasionally you stop to look back, look at what you’re creating and dive onward because you are propelled to get to that shoreline.

Zen centred-calmness in whirling pinwheel of height of artistic creativity. Photo by J.Chong
Zen centred-calmness in whirling pinwheel at height of artistic creativity. Photo by J.Chong
Bohemian art gallery. Sante Fe, New Mexico 2005. Photo by J. Chong
Bohemian art gallery. Sante Fe, New Mexico 2005. Photo by J. Chong

Then it’s time, to stop. Sit back on the dock, wash and dry up, make a coffee.  Come back.  Revisit, fix a few stray corners or touch up with some colour. Then next day, I’d like to look at the painting in the new morning light.

Resource
Gairola, Vihbu. These Nine Artists Can Pump Out Stunning Paintings in 20 Minutes Flat. In Toronto Life, Jul. 22, 2016.
Gregory, Dan. Inspiration: Filling the Well. Nov. 2, 2015.
My other art pieces featured in Cycle Write Blog can be found here.  Or to top menu, under Art- My Art.

Mono printmaking for members of public on Neighbour Day 2016. Led by Alberta Printermakers' Society. Calgary AB. Photo by J.Chong
Mono printmaking for members of public on Neighbour Day 2016. Led by Alberta Printermakers’ Society. Calgary AB. Photo by J.Chong
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21 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful Jean. You’re very talented. ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Good to hear from you, Diana. Hope you’re enjoying bright rays of early autumn.

      Like

      1. well today yes. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 10! Yikes!!!

        Like

  2. Not being an artist, most of this was beyond me… But I do LOVE your work however you choose to do it! 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thx aginggrace! But I think you have a writing creativity that fuses well with your humour. Very relatable to many people. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. livelytwist says:

    I really like the self-portrait.

    I get this: “Executing a good art piece can be that same magic: a picture or written piece suddenly just tumbles out of yourself like a rainbow soap bubble.”

    When it happens, it’s a very beautiful thing.

    The new morning light, can make you smile or cringe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      That wonderful morning light of super transparency shines the good and not so good in 3D. 🙂 Lively, you’ll see something on writing creativity later. I had to cover it off too..but there will be other blog post topic interuptions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. livelytwist says:

        Okay. Looking forward to it. 🙂

        Like

  4. thedumplingmama says:

    You are very talented! I especially like your self portrait drawing. You should consider drawing more.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      It would be a shock to take a drawing course again because it requires precision. It is a foundational skill for a lot of 2 dimension art media work. My motivation needs a kick start and some other prerequisites / excuses.

      Like

  5. Mabel Kwong says:

    Block art tissue printing is something I haven’t b seen before. Maybe it is more prominent from the last generations. It sounds like a delicate kind if art form.

    Your mud pieces don’t sound disastrous at all. As you said, you threw some flecks over and it all looked much better. Work with what you got 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      It’s mixed media art combinations that you see. Not all mud pieces can be easily fixed. 🙂 LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A post for us all! Drawing, painting are what the world needs now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Well, it may not feed a hungry tummy. But certainly it’s a distraction and pause how to appreciate the world through another medium.

      I like to tease the imagination…don’t most writers? 🙂 Hope your writing journey is moving along.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. candidkay says:

    I think those of us who create regularly–who write, paint, sculpt, etc.–take great risks and show great bravery. Bravo to you for forging on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I wish I did create more regularily. But that’s another matter. And best of luck with your blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. candidkay says:

        Thank you:). Here’s to the muse whispering in our ear at just the right moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sue Slaght says:

    Beautiful creations Jean. You are talented on canvas and in weaving the story of your art.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thx for your lovely comments, Sue!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. More, please. Love the cathedral, esp.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I hope I will get off my butt to do more. 🙂 Now that having a new computer and the surface has been cleared from multiple hardware in testing and use….

      Like

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