In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron takes up the issue of art as process rather than product. I’d really like you to think about this with me for a minute because I feel it’s one of the biggest reasons people don’t get around to doing their art.
She points out that,“We inherit the obsession with product and the idea that art produces finished product from our consumer-oriented society.” And here’s the thing: When we think like this we can stop ourselves before we even begin and I don’t want that to happen to you.
The notion of needing to come up with a good idea that will result in an acceptable finished product before you even put brush to canvas can stop you in your tracks. So what I suggest whole heartedly is that you just begin. Paint! And see where that takes you.
If you’re one of my students reading this right now, you know what a difficult concept this is to grasp. We’ve gone round and round about it in class. We are raised to believe the finished work of art is the point and, further, that some art is good while other art is bad. So we fear we may somehow do it wrong and the finished product, which is supposedly the whole reason to begin in the first place, may not be good enough. Yikes! How do we ever start under that kind of pressure?
Or, we can get stuck making the art others expect of us. I knew a brilliant young painter in Utah whose work was so well received that galleries clamored to represent him, they all gave him one-man shows and each wanted at least 30 paintings per show. He regularly sold out at $10,000 per painting. This sounds terrific, and it is, sort of. What happened to my friend, however, was he became locked into the particular style of painting that everyone expected of him. His galleries didn’t want him to paint anything else and he didn’t have time to paint for fun or to experiment. He was miserable, sick at heart, and felt he was betraying his artist every single day.
As artists I believe we are meant to go out on a limb, to try things we’ve never done before. It’s how we find our way to the next expression. That’s hard to do when an audience is expecting a particular product from us. I believe we must follow the path of the artist within, not a market. Art must be deep and real to be worthwhile, first to the artist making it and then to the viewer.
As Julia Cameron says, “Creativity lies not in the DONE but in the DOING… ” It is ACTIVE and incomplete—always shifting, always becoming.
Most of you reading this blog aren’t looking for careers as professional artists, so there truly is no reason you should have to focus on finished pieces. You’re not painting a show or supplying a gallery. You’re not earning your livings from the work you produce. So bask in the freedom this affords you, the freedom we all should be embracing. Pick up your brushes and PAINT! PLAY. That’s really when we create our best pieces anyway: When we get out of our heads, into our hearts and let the work flow. When we actively play. When we go deep into process with no worries for finished product.
Love to you all,
The photos of Jeane in today’s post were provided by Kevin Hulett.
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