Timeout for Art: Contemplation

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I haven’t spent much time in the studio this last week.

Gardening and lawn work have left me wanting nothing more than a hot soak in the evenings. Afterward, clean pajamas and a good book sound more inviting than paint-spattered sweats, brushes and polymers.

I also spent a little time helping my friend Sue get her gallery ready to open. It’s a huge undertaking, turning rustic cabins that have sat idle all winter into rooms to showcase jewelry, pottery, art, craft and the dearest selection of cards, clothes and handbags. Sue has been at it for a couple weeks now: clearing away dust and cobwebs, setting up displays, hanging and re-hanging so that each piece shows to its best advantage, considering light and shadow, and what paintings will compliment three-dimensional work…it’s exhausting just to think of it.

I gave her a couple hours of my time yesterday, between a cleaning job and a township meeting.

Not enough to make a big difference, but all I had to offer.

It’s both exhilarating and intimidating, seeing new work from other artists.

The color! The light! The brushstrokes!

Time to step back, then, and let it all sink in. Let all the lovely images whirl around until – rather than feeling I have to shrink away or (worse) try to emulate them – I am transformed by them. Like fairy dust, some things will stay with me, others will float away. Maybe the influence won’t be noticeable at all in my work. Perhaps it will change the way I approach a subject, or the colors that I choose, or the all-over feeling of a piece. Maybe it will just lighten my heart a little.

We don’t live in a vacuum. When we fall in love with things that we see, it’s impossible not to be changed. People more knowledgeable than I have contemplated and puzzled over – and still failed to come to any solid conclusions about – originality and influence in art.

I used to give an assignment to freshman art students: choose a piece of art by one artist, and render it in the style of another. It forced a close examination of styles. It also helped to discern boundaries, to think about plagiarism and copying and derivative work.

Myself, I like to take time for contemplation.

 

 

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About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

9 responses »

  1. i remember times when i would look at others’ paintings and think, ‘i might as well give up, as i’ll never reach that level.. ‘ i still have high goals and have a lot more to learn/master, but i feel good about my ‘voice’ and have also stopped the self doubt….

    sometimes those periods of incubation help us move forward with renewed energies.

    a little fairy dust is so very important for putting a smile in our hearts! z

    • Yes, exactly…just a pause to let everything sink in, to just become a part of the archive of things I’ve seen and read and experienced. Thanks for reading, Lisa, and – as always – for your kind comments!

    • Oh, thank you so much! I feel the same way when I read a really good book…it’s paralyzing in a way, until that energy sinks in and becomes a part of the catalog of life events and images that I draw from. Thanks, Sara!

  2. I think your assignment for art students would really make them think about how a piece o fart comes together and what the key elements of the artist are – I’m sure it always produced interesting results! I enjoyed reading the comments too – reading a good book can almost be paralysing can’t it?! wishing you a great week Cindy x

  3. It was great fun, Claire. The artist with the style most commonly used was Van Gogh. His deep brush strokes defined his paintings. It was fun to see works by Mondrian, Rembrandt and Picasso rendered in that style. I hope your week goes well, too, Claire, thank you!

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