Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Drawing on Change

I had interesting studio time yesterday. I discovered Digitally Imported, which is a site that offers continuous play music -- radio stations without the annoying commercial breaks. There are several ambient stations so I chose a "trippy" Psy Chill then moved to the studio area. An atmosphere was created and it allowed me several hours of uninterrupted focus. I did a drawing exercise where I tried to create a scene from memory and then later allowed for some free flow drawing. The second exercise ended up being a quite detailed combination of two scenes from memory, rather than random free flow drawing. I found it interesting that the pose and scene are similar to paintings I've done in the past, and the figure has a combination of my features with those of someone I know well. This seems very similar to something we do in dreams -- making combination characters. I can't say it holds any particular meaning as a symbol, but is likely the effect of simply being familiar with the forms and values of the imagery.

Another point I found interesting was the style of drawing I'd chosen. I'd reverted to a rendering style I used years ago, in my first full studio. I enjoy the return of drawing in this manner and hope my hand will carry it through to painting as well. Back then I had a greater freedom of space than ever before and everything in life was just about perfect. I was eating up everything art with unstoppable enthusiasm. The atmosphere was charged for creativity and relaxed enough for deep focus. Of course that eventually changed, and the shift was dramatic. That a style of line from back then should come through in my drawing shows that internally I'm feeling much better about my personal environment and healing is reaching a deeper level. I'm very happy that I can say I had moments I'd consider as nearly perfect bliss, but recovery from an extended bought of non-bliss has been a rugged challenge!

Above is a corner of my first full studio, crammed full of projects for the photo.
Life affects an artists art, and it was bound to show through changes of line and style. Though I was already aware of that fact, it didn't stop me from getting frustrated. There's a nasty cycle that goes a little like this...
Something traumatic and depressing happens in life. The artist wants to feel better so seeks comfort from the act of creating art. But because this thing that happened caused the artist as a person to change, the art results change; maybe there's a difference in line, brush stroke, something just doesn't seems to work right. Guess what? That's depressing, and that sense of being bummed out builds upon what was already there, intensifying the depression. During such times it's not uncommon for artists to render with a more tightly reserved type of line than with a relaxed confidence. This can make the person feel as if they don't know how to do it anymore. Some may even think they've "lost the touch" and give up art altogether. The painter Milton Avery said that such persons were never really artists in the first place and they probably made the right decision to stop waisting time. A true artist pushes through those down times, the dark times when creativity or skill seems to fail and the individual is plunged into near struggle rather than finding release in art work. When life relaxes the art work will follow. This is simply a cyle of growth, and it happens in ALL of the arts.
This isn't to say I'm not pleased with any of the work I've produced lately; I don't devalue any of my efforts or triumphs. I felt a familiar comfort while drawing yesterday that had felt lost to me, entering nearly a trance like state of being. Expression through art had become like a religion, offering transcendental numinous experiences; feeling a connection to the Divine. It was like I'd lost faith and it now had returned. I'm trying not to be overwhelmed by this sensation or get caught up in an emotional high; afterall it's not quite that monumental really. There's no flip of the switch, but it's rather more like a spiralling dial. I find myself back at the same spot but on a different level. Only time will show what effective changes -- good or bad -- have taken place. One thing is for sure -- I enjoyed drawing -- and I'm going to go reach for that experience again right now! ;)

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use or for purchase information.

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