Saturday, June 19, 2010

Landscape w/small rant

I'm calling this Twilight Time. It started out as nothing more than a way to use up excess paint on my palette and turned into a landscape in the process. I'm fighting the urge to criticize it to death and instead just let it be what it is.

Landscapes are not my forte but I've hit a point in my journey as an artist where I'm not satisfied with my work anymore (it's happened before, btw) so I need to stretch. I'm not saying I don't like my past work but I've reached a point where I'd like to take it to a new level. What level remains to be seen. Maybe I'm a victim of the caprice of my own moods which has lead to this recent dissatisfaction but irregardless, it's a chance to grow and explore with paint and paper.

I reached one goal last year which was to 'loosen up'. Now I want to become more expressive. I want my emotions to enter the picture (no pun intended) and not strive to simply recreate the emotions of my subjects. What better vehicle to convey my own emotions/moods than landscapes? I read a thread on Wetcanvas yesterday, started by a member that was in the process of taking a workshop from Alvaro Castagnet . This quote (the member quoting Castagnet) caught my eye:

"What makes a painting? A painting is a vision. Don't copy the subject. Representational artists run a huge risk of becoming illustrators. Illustration is not art. As artists, we have to capture something beyond that. We all can fall into the illustration trap, and the more we know, the harder it gets to stay out of that. We are constantly battling craft vs. art. Craft is illustration. A painting should reflect your spirit. Art is spiritual and there are no rules. Illustration is second hand art. If you are too literal, there is no enjoyment in the painting.

If you think using your intellect is the answer in painting, you're wrong. Painting is intuitive. It cannot be learned mechanically. Painting is about capturing the intrinsic side of life, with it's mood and feeling. There are no shortcuts and no formula. Painting is based on insight and perception, not logic. If the painting lacks ambience, it is worthless. The mood is the only creative side of representational art. The painting has to have magic to it. Search for the surprising element of the day. Paintings shouldn't be "pleasant" or "pretty"; they have to have GUTS. If we try to just copy nature and be illustrators, nature will beat us every time. We need to look deeper than that."

For the record, I don't agree with everything Castagnet had to say but some of his views did ring a personal bell with me. I thought by loosening up my style I would automatically become more expressive but that didn't seem to be the case. Even though I've changed my way of applying paint, I don't get a sense of heart and soul in my work. OMG, I think I'm going all artsy fartsy! I'm not giving up my cats, especially Crabby Cat, no matter how far afield I may wander.


Rebecca J. Dunn said...

Hi Billie,
I think you should cease the critique on this painting - it's a very nice work. I'm going through the same frustration as you re:inspiration. As for Castagnet's quote, the last sentence, which I've heard/read of him mention before, has always inspired me to 'dig deeper'. Love your blog btw,
Becky Dunn

Billie Crain said...

Thanks and welcome to my blog, Becky.:) I go through this at least once a year. I consider it growing pains. When I hit these roadblocks I become over critical and usually just stop painting but this time I decided to analyze myself instead of my work. I realized lately there's a disconnect between myself and my subjects and painting has begun to lose it's joy. I need to emotionally engage more.

So many things Castagnet said I disagree with but he made a few good points and those points struck a chord with me. Anyhoo, it lit a fire under me. I'm excited about my art again.