Like many artists I dream of pushing my artwork forward so it looks more like the artwork I visualise and the artwork I make while asleep. For years I’ve had vivid dreams about filling really large canvases with abstract non-objective paintings. These paintings look amazing, but when I go painting in my studio my work looks very different. So in order to get a little closer, I’ve made a plan.
I heard that if you paint from your mind, it won’t work. You have to paint from your heart and soul. The tricky part is that you have to use your intuition to get there. And that might be a challenge, because my intuition has more or less been switched off since early childhood. So what to do?
Recurring shapes, patterns and lines
Throughout my almost 10 year long art practise I have noticed that some shapes, patterns and lines are recurring over and over again. This especially happens when I’m in flow, when my (over)thinking left brain is taking a break and I just play and explore and completely forget about the rest of the world. When time is totally irrelevant, when I don’t need food, drink or rest. I love being in flow.
My studio is my happy place
Normally my studio is my happy place. But lately I have been feeling tense and restricted when in my studio. I feel stuck. My paintings suck. I don’t seem to get anything right. I’m sick and tired of this whole art project. All the fun is gone and it somehow feels wasteless to stay on my art path. I think I’ve lost my mojo. In times like this one sure needs a change: there is no point in continuing to repeat the same shit. I need to stop doing what I don’t like!
Searching for myself
At some point in art school we did research on our early works to see if there were recurring elements, and we were encouraged to make a log of our personal language of shapes, patterns and marks. Last spring while working on my graduate project, I made a journal containing my visual alphabet. This spring I went through my existing body of work looking for composition details. And, to my nice surprise, I found some good stuff that I really like. So, there is hope!
Next step collage
Next step in my process is making collage based on my findings. Making collage is both fun and challenging. Making my own collage material is a playful way to start my day in the studio. I find that working with a set of limitations gives me freedom to experiment within the set frames, and I often use a timer to avoid overthinking what I’m up to. The main thing is to let loose, to play, experiment and have fun! If it’s not fun, then I’m on the wrong track!
Last year I started experimenting with mixed media and I kind of like the combination of layering with acrylic paint, collage materials, ink, markers, charcoal and oil sticks. I’ve come to think of the layers as life experiences. In the studio some of them are covered up, but they still shine through or stick out like traces of history. It’s all part of what makes a person, or an artwork unique. Life in and outside the studio is not so different after all.
Cruising the internet
I’m not sure how smart it is to scroll through facebook, instagram and watch youtube videos when you are in search of yourself… but I admit I sometimes do, even if it is really scary to see how good some artists are.
I try not to compare myself with others, but sometimes I stumble over things that remind me of the art from my dreams, so I try to figure out how they have made their artworks and try to adapt some of the findings into my own work. The possibilities are overwhelming and I often get confused and frustrated when I cannot make it work. Now that’s a vicious circle.
Evolving as an artist
I never understand artists who make the same paintings over and over again. Some of them claim to have a ball, while others are frustrated and stuck with gallery expectations. Maybe there’s something wrong with me because I easily get bored and want to try something different, explore and see what happens. Maybe I haven’t found myself as an artist yet?
I heard that real artists paint from their heart and soul. But when creating from your heart and soul, you need to get in contact with your inner true self. The only gut feeling I ever had was stomach pain due to food allergies. Growing up I experienced that feelings often made things worse and that logic and reasoning was the way to go. Years later I find that it takes courage to look inside, and you never know what shows up from the subconscious layers. The question is how do I express my emotions in abstract ways that touch your feelings?
Having fun is my fuel
Right now the trick is to find what keeps my creative juices flowing. I need to find a way of nurturing myself, a means to fill the artist part of me with fuel that keeps me going, energy that keeps me pushing my art forward and closer to the paintings I dream of making. I need to free myself and unstuck whatever is holding me back. Because I love creating, I honestly don’t know who I am without my creative studio time. I suspect that my fuel is HAVING FUN!
Developing a unique style
When letting loose and having fun in my studio is established, I will explore and experiment different methods of putting things together in my personal abstract mix. I can hardly wait, all of a sudden I am super duper motivated! I love planning, and I know I’ll get there!
Even if it takes a lifetime
As long as I am creating there is hope! I will keep on searching for my artistic voice and continue abstractifying my work. Some say it takes a lifetime. I suspect I will need another incarnation to fulfil my dream, but I will never give up!