The Creative Conversation

April 4, 2023

When I step into the studio each day, I engage in a multi-faceted conversation.  Before I arrive, there is already a crowd gathered; great artists of the past and a few in the present, upon whose shoulders I stand. 

They are my influencers, for I believe that all great art is created from  what has come before. Even work that claims to abandon the past for something fresh is being created in opposition to what has come before!

These voices from the past whisper to me. No, I’m not delusional. I don’t actually hear voices, at least not out loud. But I sit with my work and  imagine what my elders might say to me before I pick up a paintbrush or mix a color. 

A Painting is also a Conversation

The other voice I attend to is the dialogue with the work itself. My art is  always been a dialogue between me and the piece I’m creating. I often walk into the studio and ask the painting out loud, “speak to me. What do you need today?” 

And then I wait. And I listen. And I look at what’s on the canvas. And then I generally see something that requires my attention… adding a line, a particular color or perhaps to add transparency, light, or to scrub back the surface to reveal something hidden.

Starting Out – There’s no Conversation

But of course, starting from the beginning, a blank canvas – there’s not yet a dialogue or conversation. There’s no voice beckoning me. A plain white canvas, devoid of motion, color or form. My job? To mess it up! To move from the blank vacuum into texture and foundation. 

I work in black most of the time to create the underpinning of a painting. It’s a purely intuitive process, where I invite my energy and my body to move and create the basis of what’s to come. 

Once those first marks are made, then slowly the conversation begins. 

A Shouted Conversation 

As the surface becomes more complex; and more connections and relationships are made on the canvas, the dialogue becomes increasingly textured and multi-dimensionall. 

Frequently the cacophony of voices creates a sense of chaos and discordance.  Both the painting and the conversation are loaded with shapes, forms and in the case of the voices — too many opinions! 

A Completed Conversation

My role is to quiet the voices, to simplify the conversation, and to listen with discernment for which opinions stay, and which ones go. Like a snake charmer, I seduce the remaining voices into a painting that flows seamlessly, a form that begins and ends with itself. The painting is complete. 

Painting, for me, is not a relaxing endeavor. It is frequently difficult, nerve-wracking, frustrating. Fortunately, there are days when the conversations are clear; the movements directed and a path, for that day, laid bare before me. 

I’m going to be sharing my process along the way. I’ll show you how I create – not every day’s work – no one needs to see that kind of chaos! But I’ll show you the beginnings, what it’s like to be solving problems in the messy middle. And I’ll happily show you the result — when the conversation and the painting are complete. Trust me when I say this: as harmony and flow converge, the struggle to arrive recedes, and the painting has a life of its own. 

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