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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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),
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.
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.
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.