Monday, July 4, 2011

Artwork Revisited

Warning - Heavy Verbiage - No pictures till the end!

It's not very often that I go back and re-work something I've created before. This has to do with the way I work. When the inspiration hits me to create something, I often work in a frenetic, in-the-moment, spontaneous fashion, as opposed to an organized, steady, planned approach. It's as if the artwork itself is alive and eager to be seen - and it's very demanding! It has a lot to say and, since it's in my head, it's rather hard to ignore! In fact, lately I've noticed that I actually hear a voice. I'm sure it's been there all along, but now that I'm concentrating on creating artwork every day, it's gotten rather loud!

Now, don't get excited - It's not like it's "God" or my deceased Grandmother speaking to me from the other side, guiding my hand, or anything like that. I think of it as my "Inner Artist's Voice". During the creation process, we have lovely little chats, the Voice and I. You know, an inner dialogue. Surely, I can't be alone here. Other Artists must hear it as well. Or, I'm crazy! I'm okay with that. I like being able to hear myself think!
Often, the conversation is about finding hidden significance in the artwork. Apparently, sometimes I subconsciously put things into it and don't realize they are there, until the Voice points them out! ( Huh. I thought I just randomly sketched the hand that way. No - it's clenched for a reason!) Sometimes the Voice draws my attention to random thoughts, stirred up by the creation process, that blossom into realizations about the meaning of life and my/our place in the Universe. (Oh, I see. Sheesh! There are lessons everywhere.) Often, the Voice has a story to tell about the background of the characters in the work. (Alright, alright, I'll note it down so I can write the story later!) Sometimes we discuss how others might react to the work. (I usually get carried away and think it should hang in a museum. Invariably, the Voice cautions me to focus on being inspired by the work itself, not on imagined fame and fortune!) And of course, the Voice insists that I keep on working till it's done; following me into the kitchen ( I'll just get a quick snack and get right back to work.); around the house (I'll just get dinner going - I can work while it's cooking.); to bed (I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'll get up at 5:30 and get right back to work!). I tell ya, the Voice sure knows how to get that artwork done!

Eventually, as more and more of the artwork is transferred to paper or canvas and less remains inside my head, the Voice has fewer remarks to make, and my pace will slow.  Finally, it all comes to a halt after the Voice and I spend a little time looking here and there for something to add or tweak and we both come up empty.  Then, we're done; the Voice, the artwork and I. Our conversation is complete. There is nothing more to be said. Finis.

It sometimes happens that later (could be days, could be years) I see something in a finished piece that I suddenly wish I had done differently. It bugs me a little, but I don't usually go back and re-work it. It's hard to explain why. To me, each piece of artwork is more than just the solid object I see in front of me. It's also the physical manifestation of all the thoughts and energy that went into creating the piece at that time. The spirit with which it is infused is what I had inside of me then, what inspired me to make it the way I did. The time for its creation is past. I don't like to mess with it. Does that make sense to anyone else?

That being said, there were a few times I did attempt to go back and re-do a couple of things. They were acrylic paintings that once hung proudly on my walls. Now they are leaning against a wall in storage. I keep them to remind me of my folly!

Despite that, this past week I found myself re-visiting a piece of artwork I had done a couple weeks ago. You may remember it. It was an Etsy Team challenge based on the theme "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". The original idea pretty much popped into my head and frantically drew itself on the paper. I colored it in a frenzy. I remember thinking, as my hand flew back and forth across the paper that it was an "Expressionistic" way to apply color. I felt exhilarated while doing it, and exhausted when I was done. Because of the manner in which I did it, it had a sketchy look - but I liked it. I thought I was done and moved on.

Well, apparently it was not done with me! Off and on, throughout the week, I could hear the Voice calling me; "Look here, there's more to do!" Thoughts about it and images popped up unexpectedly. Intrigued, I kept picking it up and looking at it, and clicking on the online picture to view it there too. Finally, I said; "Okay, I'll do more work on it. When I have time. After I finish this that and the other thing." I put it on a list.

The Voice was not satisfied. Apparently, putting the work on a little shelf in my mind for later was not what it had in mind. I moved it up to the top of the list.

As it turned out, I did have more to do with that drawing, and it had more to do with me! The Voice was right to nag me. I liked the original idea of the girl walking a path through a Forest, the trees dark and tangled on one side and filled with light on the other. I liked the idea of the fork in the path and the choice to be made about which path to follow. I liked the idea of her face having the look of a Yin-Yang symbol on it - half white, half black. So there was nothing about the drawing I really wanted to change. I was just going to give it more definition, fill in more color, and make the dark and light aspects really stand out. Ok - basically it just needs more coloring.

On the surface, that was true. But it turned out to be so much more than that. In fact, I think it was not so much what I had left to give the drawing, but what it still had to give to me. For example, as I colored the girl, I noticed how I had drawn and colored her in a very ghostly fashion. Without really thinking about it, I was illustrating the idea of a struggle of the spirit, rather than one's corporeal self. I noticed how the hand on the "light side" was open and reaching out, while the dark-side hand was clenched in a fist. The light-side foot likewise stepped forward, unnaturally elongated to emphasize the point, while the dark-side foot was planted firmly on its path. As I colored the dark-side trees and brambles, I added deep shades of purple and blue and randomly thought to myself how beautiful the dark side was. ("Aha!" said the voice. "Think about that." I did.) In the end (when the Voice fell silent and I really was done) I understood (on a very personal level) how the drawing illustrated that the inner struggle, in itself, is an integral part of our spiritual growth, as individuals and as a species.

And now my Writer's Voice (What? Is she Sybil?) has fallen silent. Apparently I have said all there is to say about that. So, without further ado, here are the two images. The first "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and the second, which I named "The Dilemma". I enjoyed my time with it. I hope that you do, too!

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

The Dilemma  (See it in my Etsy Shop)


ZenobiaSouthcombe said...

Reading this post, I remember back to school, when we *had* to analyse, criticise, and generally deconstruct artwork. It's important for us to do that with our own artwork as well, whether that be through our own 'Inner Artist's Voice' (we all have one!)or a formal self-evaluation, or asking a friend (artist or non-artist).

Thanks for the reminder to stop & reflect!


Sheri McClure-Pitler said...

Thank you, Zee, for stopping by, and for making me feel that I'm not alone!

Looking forward to our mutual Guest Blogging!

Best Wishes,

Singing Swan said...

When your artwork speaks to you inside yourself and won't be quiet until you pay attention to it, you have no choice but to do what it says so you can get a good night's sleep!