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Monday, January 2, 2017

10 things I've Learned as an Artist in the Past Year

How to Be More Interactive

The most important thing I've learned this year is how crucial it is to become an "interactive artist". My definition of an interactive artist is any creator (art, music, writing, etc) that establishes and relies on a massive social structure online both locally and internationally rather than through their reliance on galleries. This is a philosophy I've used for years now, but its really been in the past year that I can see the results personally of establishing a web of contacts across the globe through online social networks, blogging and providing information to others. I can also see the results of other interactive artists who are finding success in this way.

How to Find my Activist Voice

I've always had strong opinions about things and I've always been an art activist, but I cannot honestly say I've really found an outlet for expressing them in a way that felt right until this year. Finding the method for how our voice reaches out through our art is not something to be taken lightly. I believe for art activists that they shouldn't rush the process. It must evolve naturally. If we push it then our voice is forced. Every creative person finds their activist voice in a different way.

Galleries Have it Tough

After organizing my own first large show in March, I realized how much a gallery takes on itself to be able to organize a successful showing for an artist. We think the gallery is just about providing the space and possible buyers. We forget about things like invitations, food, drink, promotions, cleanup, hanging and displaying work and a whole host of other things that galleries provide. I think the gallery system is slowly dying and being replaced by other more innovative ways to sell our work, but we'd better think carefully about all they do provide before we abandon them completely. It is a symbiotic relationship and we shouldn't forget that.

Nature is the Best Artist to Learn From

In my work over the past year I have been creating sculptures  using dead eroded wood. I've learned that nature creates some pretty spectacular shapes. I've also learned to let the wood speak to me about what form it ultimately wishes to take. This isn't limited to wood. It happens in everything that nature has a hand in including urban decay. The natural erosion of any kind is a beauty all its own.

Creating a Series of Art shouldn't be Feared but Embraced

A lot of new artists feel that creating a series of work may stifle their creativity. We want to explore and stretch our artistic wings and not be limited to a series of work. I've found that any series is merely a linked set of points where you begin with something simple and work to gradually harder and harder forms. In my first years as an artist I moved around a lot with different styles and ideas. But I've found by encapsulating an idea into a series that I don't lose any of my creativity and gain the benefit of a body of work that represents me.

Teaching Other Artists is in my Soul

I find that I get no greater satisfaction than working and sharing back with newer artists my own experiences and talents. In a way these students of the arts become children and I feel like I am leaving a legacy behind me that is important. As Jackson Browne says in the song "For the Dancer"

Just do the steps that you've been shown
By everyone you've ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own

The evolution of our own talents is found in each person we pass the steps on to.

Blending Paints Rocks

It wasn't until this past year that I felt I really grasped blending colors. In the past I'd done my blending on the palette. Now I let the brush do the blending for me. I also found that the key to good blending is in having at least one contrasting color involved. If I have two warm colors, choose a cold color to accompany or visa versa. And the right kind of brush is crucial. My blending brushes are my pride and joy.

No Piece of Art is Ever Complete

For me this was the year of Assimilation. A year of learning that no piece of art is ever complete and can always become something new and innovative. When I began compiling notes on Assimilation Art I wasn't sure where I was going with it. Now I think it has to become a movement and a new way to look at art. That may never happen in my time but I will do everything I can over the years to improve the foundations for it and pass it on to others.

The Adventure of an Artist is not just in Creating but in the Conceptualizing of Ideas

I find that the longer I am an artist the more I find the thrill is in composing a conceptual idea that is totally new. I began my artistic life as an experimental artist. I never want to create the same kinds of things over and over again. If you can get me excited in a concept then my subconscious takes over and runs with it. I dream it, I feel it, I am totally absorbed within it. Some ideas last a long time, others just for the duration of a specific piece of art. But in the end its always about the idea and what I can do with it.

It Pains me to See a Lame Title For a Piece of Art, an Art Show or a News Article About Art

Beware a lame title! We are creators. To create a fantastic work of art and then name it something lame like "Blue Painting #3" is a travesty. I think this is an area that so many artists are horrible at. I've also made a promise to myself that any news article written about me, I have the veto power to tell the article writer to think up a more creative title. I see way too many articles written about phenomenal artists where the title of the article is something like "Local artist makes new art" or Local artist will have show of their work". Ugh!! You are a writer for pity sake, be a bit more creative than than Mr. Article Writer! And that goes for every artist who labels their own work something boring and non-descriptive.

Here's to another year of learning to be a great artist! Have a wonderful 2017!

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