Friday, November 27, 2009

Compose : Expression

Expression wasn't a planned topic for my compose series but a post on Kathy's blog created a spark that I wanted to respond to. I think it's important to remember that our knowledge of composition and design is acquired for one reason - to create strong work, work that communicates. Having a large menu of options to choose from provides an opportunity to select just what might be needed to invite your viewer to consider what you have created and why. Work by artists who slavishly follow every rules to perfection can be quite exquisite and perfectly rendered but lacking in soul . I think when we first begin in art there is so much to learn and our heads are consumed by this learning. It's a huge juggling act.

I can remember my excitement at creating my first work that was a perfect(in my eyes) rendering of a landscape in a Walter Foster book. I was 20 and interested in art. I lived in a small community. I had no formal training and owned only two art books, one of them a book on composition and the other on landscape. That was my beginning in art. I didn't paint again until I was almost 50. I had a lot to learn and designed a course of study that I pursued and am still pursuing. I feel like I have consumed art book, talked about art, created art and skyrocketed in 10 years to where I am at this point in my career. I can mark my progress by looking back through my work.

In the early stages of my new career, I was warmly welcomed by a group of artists interested in botanical work. These sessions held at Memorial University Botanical Gardens taught me how to really look at something and represent all of its parts. I appreciated belonging to a group of painters who were interested in the subject matter I was interested in and I learned a lot by watching them work and listening to their conversation. My realization that I would never be a botanical artist came quickly. I kept interpreting and exaggerating. I put too much of myself into the work. Flowers always had their own vocabulary for me and I wanted to use it to create paintings that communicated my feelings.

Tenacity(2003) 11 x 14 in, acrylic on canvas

This work represents that moment when I knew I needed to move on and find my own voice as an artist. Can you identify when you found your artistic voice?

10 comments:

layers said...

I have been painting for 30 years. for the first 15 years I painted pretty landscapes and florals, for sales. did not think much--just painted the successful ones over and over again. then 15 years ago it hit me hard that I was painting soul-less mindless stuff that I called the trap of success. I started to journal and search and read and emerged with more personal more meaningful paintings and am still searching. my trip to Japan was another attempt to go deeper in my search for my heritage.

dyanna said...

Your blog is really interesting.I'm waiting for your new post.
Have a nice day.

hwfarber said...

I found my voice very early with sculpture (I think it coincided with the women's movement during the 60's & 70's). I began painting in 2001 and for a while I felt I had to prove that I could paint recognizable things. In 2006, I awoke one morning and sketched my dream of retrieving something yucky but important. In my analysis, I felt that I had ignored that part of me that was not pretty pictures. The painting became "Retrieval of the Wild." Since then, I paint whatever creeps into my mind and sometimes they sell. I do, however, keep some "doozies" private (I love the work of Sir Frances Bacon). I chuckle when I think of my kids or husband going through my effects--I hope it's somehow possible for me to watch.

I'm glad you didn't become a botanical artist--you have shown me a new way of looking at paintings of flowers.

Kathy said...

Well-stated, Margaret! I like your botanical painting, and can see from the right-hand component of that work that you were ready to sprout wings and fly! When I was very young (about 4 years old) my mother realized that I would be an artist and began lessons in drawing and color theory. Both my parents provided me with decades of academic art instruction and lifelong encouragement. So, from the earliest age, my self-identity was "artist."

Margaret Ryall said...

Donna (layers), You make me feel good with your comment. It only took me about four years to figure out the importance of meaning in what I create. :) You are so right about the trap of success. I honestly did sell more paintings when my work had less meaning (from my point of view).

Dyanna, Thanks for visiting my blog and responding to my recent post. Hopefully you will find more of interest when you visit again.

HW, You always make me chuckle. I can just imagine what you might have stored away for the unsuspecting family to discover. When I was in Ireland last summer, I got to visit the Sir Francis Bacon's actual studio that was taken apart and recreated in a museum in Dublin. He was not a tidy man - a very odd personality all around- but he created some interesting work.
I'm so glad you can look at flowers in a new way because of my writing and painting.

Margaret Ryall said...

Kathy,
I sometimes wish I could have had more formal experiences with art at a younger age. You are very lucky to have your interests nurtured from an early age and to realize that you were an artist.

ArtPropelled said...

Great post Margaret! I've loved carving since the day I picked up the chisels but somwhere along the line I started painting for quick sales. 10 years of soul destroying repetative work which caused a major block. When I came out of the block I began carving again and at last feel that I'm finding my voice. The search continues and I'm enjoying the journey.

-Don said...

"Tenacity" is a wonderful work. The expressiveness created by the brushstrokes and strong contrasts of the image on the right side do more to illustrate the beauty and personality of this flower than its actual "portrait" on the left. I can see why this created an AH HA! moment for you as an artist.

I had to smile when you mentioned Walter Foster's books. I have about 20 of them that have been in my possession since I was a young teen. They were some of my first learning tools, since my parents had no idea how to further my art education. I found early on, though, that realism without expressionism bored me to tears. Of course, I didn't know what that meant when I was younger and didn't end up with it in my vernacular until I was well into my college years. I just knew at the time that the accollades were cool, but reactions were far more rewarding.

The piece where this all made sense to me is "What Profit A Man?" which I featured in my blog entry from October 10th, http://www.donmichaeljr.com/blog/2009/10/10/hard-to-paint/. Something busted loose in me the night I created the "sketch" for that one and I haven't been the same since.

-Don

hwfarber said...

I read about Bacon's recreated studio. I tacked a photo of his actual studio on my workshop wall; I want people to realize that mine is not the messiest in the world.

Patrice said...

I had to laugh when I read your question at the end. Voice? How about voices?

Yeah, I seem to have a whole peanut gallery of voices - and I listen to them all! I realized that for me, my artistic voice is a kind of harmony of themes that both haunt and enchant me. I work in one direction for a time, and then I hear that distant call - and I'm off in another direction.

And I think it's all good.

You are always an inspiration! Your questions help me to put into words those things that have become instinctual.