This afternoon at 1pm sharp I found myself in a bare-bones art classroom again, awaiting the arrival of my instructor for Advanced Contemporary Painting at the Denver Art Student’s League. I was excited to such a degree that I could not help remember all of my “first days” of school, from kindergarten through college at CU in Boulder, and the many art instructors I have enjoyed (one or two not so much) over a long and winding career in fine art. That I still have such a passion for painting speaks to how powerful the pull of creativity and the artistic process can be, should you choose to surrender yourself completely to it. I am an art slave, owned by and under the spell of art. The smell of the room, the years of dripped paint dried all over the floor, the organic nature of the spattered shirted people struggling through the door carrying all the magical paraphernalia required to nurture each artistic soul – that is what turns me on. It was like being in the legendary Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory only with paint. I was giddy with anticipation and nervous, hoping I was not assuming too much by choosing that class….
One particular relative of mine, although near and dear to my heart, keeps urging, almost demanding me to paint as I did 25 years ago when my subject matter was Colorado landscapes and they were selling like fine art hot cakes. But all of you who pick up brushes to express yourselves know that one must grow and evolve as an artist and that any self-respecting painter who does the same kind of theme all the live-long day through all the live-long years of his life is a boring person indeed. It is like reading and re-reading the same books, watching the same old movies you saw 25 years ago to the exclusion of all the new award-winning films, and it is certainly like living constantly in the past, resting on one’s past accomplishments until they get so raggedy that one is called an arrogant has-been in ridiculous denial of the NOW. Creative people, if nothing at all, must live in the NOW.
I have done that – I have kept current, tried much of the new wiz-bang stuff, produced a huge body of work, taught my skills to other people, showed in gallery situations and private shows and sold a good percentage of what I produced. But still, I need guidance from someone wiser than me – someone who sees my art in a different light. I want to do the best art of my life in this very decade of my life and be remembered for it. If there is ever a retrospective show in my honor, please let there be clearly visible, stunning evolution evident in that body of work.
I am again the student, and it feels so good. My first challenge, from Homare Ikeda my instructor, is to begin a painting and allow a full year to finish it. Obviously this is an exercise in patience, steady progress, resilience, determination and the evolution of working on a project with no pressure. Sounds easier than it will be, I am sure, but I cannot wait to get started. This painting would be done at home, using most class time for other paintings, so it will be picked up and continued at my own pace, then put down again for a rest until I am in the mood to pick it up again and add to it. Periodically I will take it into class for critiques and classroom work. What’s the purpose? To show change – to indicate progress – to evolve – to grow as an artist. To surprise myself! Exactly what I was hoping for.
I am going to keep track of this progress, take photos, and from time to time I will report here in this blog with a photo of my current incarnation of THE YEAR LONG PAINTING, so if you care enough to see what’s going on, please stay tuned. I will be as surprised as you are, I am sure.