Monday, February 25, 2008

Okay, Soul Level. Thank you for reading about my little corner of the world.

I took a weekend painting class from a successful abstract painter. The workshop was called "Intuitive Painting." I thought I had made up that moniker, but obviously not. I had also taken the man's class years ago, so maybe I got the name from there. I knew pretty much what to expect. Mostly, the class would crack me open and get me flowing some more.

Sure enough, it was as wild and creative as ever. Several students didn't return the second day. They probably would have broken rather than cracked with more prodding, and they may have gotten enough of a peek at creative freedom to develop a taste for it. One woman, a very accurate watercolor botanical painter, was uncomfortable with the silliness. Art, apparently, is serious stuff. Work, not play. She was one of the artists who got one day's worth of creative fiber and started cramping.

The instructor was in a different place in his life than years ago, too. He was "on strike" from painting himself, stating that he needed paintings to sell before he would paint any more. Dang, if I did that, I'd be done. But that taught me something too: make sure I paint in a way that makes it possible to store or transport. And to continue my practice of giving away paintings if it seems like the thing to do. I like giving paintings away because it keeps that dollar crapola out of the mix; a dangerous specter in creating is the idea of profiting from it financially.

Mostly I learned that from the first class I had gotten outside the box and gave myself permission to paint abstracts, come what may. And then I drew around me another box: the this-is-how I do it box. I also judged the box I'd left as old or not for me. Instead, maybe I can look at all these layers of boxes as a scaffold, building the creative in me, and making all levels and skills available to me at any time. I told the instructor about my thoughts, and he nodded knowingly, saying only, "There's always a prejudice somewhere."

So, I came home and painted some more in my box style. Then I started a painting trying to not do it in the box. And I considered adding some images into paintings I'm finishing (the old box: photorealism).

I want to have compassion for the artists who left the class. I want to say I understand the discomfort (which I do). If I were in a stuffy exacting class in using triple 0 brushes to paint eyelashes, I'd run screaming. So, we all have our thing. There's always a prejudice somewhere.