Q: Why do you sometimes depict the same subject matter twice?
“Trickster” (left) and “Sacrificial,” while the latter was in-progress
A: It is fascinating to play around with scale. For starters, it helps demonstrate how my pastel techniques and my approach to the subject matter are evolving. I’ve noticed that I always see and depict more details the second time around.
Typically, I prefer the second pastel painting over the first one depicting the same subject. Man Ray famously said:
“There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.”
I disagree with him. I am an optimist who believes that artists cannot help but improve over time. It’s one of the things that gets me into my studio: the idea that my creative process and my ways of using pastel are changing for the better. I like to think this represents some sort of creative progress. But still I sometimes have to wonder, is the idea of ‘progress’ just something artists tell ourselves in order to keep going?
Comments are welcome!
Pearls from artists* # 450
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
All the journeys that have transpired in my life have been animated by interest. Something or someone has stopped me in my tracks. Interest, that thing that cannot really be faked, is an invitation to adventure. It has always been disorienting to do but I have to act on these interests. Somehow I know that in order to keep on working as an artist, I have to keep on changing. And this means that when interest is piqued, I must follow or die. And I know that I will have to hang on tight for the ride. These rides have changed me irrevocably.
The primary tool in a creative process is interest. To be true to one’s interest, to pursue it successfully, one’s body is the best barometer. The heart races. The pulse soars. Interest can be your guide. It always points you in the right direction. It defines the quality, energy and content of your work. You cannot feign or fake interest or choose to be interested in something because it is prescribed. It is never prescribed. It is discovered. When you sense this quickening you must act immediately. You must follow that interest and hold tight.
… If the interest is genuine and large enough and if it is pursued with tenacity and generosity, the boomerang effect is resounding. Interest returns volley to affect your life and inevitably alter it. You must be available and attentive to the doors that open unexpectedly. You cannot wait. The doors close fast. It will change your life. It will give you adventures you never expected. You must be true to it and it will be true to you.
Anne Bogart in A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre
Comments are welcome!
Pearls from artists* # 208
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
PC: In your painting, you’ve always kept this speed of movement. One senses that you work something out slowly, deep down, that it’s hard work, but there’s always something fresh about its expression.
HM: That’s because I revise my notion several times over. People often add or superpose – completing things without changing their plan, whereas I rework my plan every time. I never get tired. I always start again, working from the previous state. I try to work in a contemplative state, which is very difficult: contemplation is inaction, and I act in contemplation.
In all the studies I’ve made from my own ideas, there’s never been a faux pas because I’ve always unconsciously had a feeling for the goal; I’ve made my way toward it the way one heads north, following the compass. What I’ve done, I’ve done by instinct, always with my sights on a goal I still hope to reach today. I’ve completed my apprenticeship now. All I ask is four or five years to realize that goal.
PC: Delacroix said that too. Great artists never look back.
HM: Delacroix also said – ten years after he’d left the place – “I’m just beginning to see Morocco.” Rodin said to an artist, “You need to stand back a long way for sculpture.” To which the student replied, “Master, my studio is only ten meters wide.”
Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview, Henri Matisse with Pierre Courthion, edited by Serge Guilbaut, translated by Chris Miller
Comments are welcome!