You know, my native language is German (not fishing for compliments). Last week, I asked you some questions, but answers were next to none. Ok, I live with it, let's go on.
This week, I chose 291, a large painting I enjoyed long hanging on various walls in my office and home. When I had my first exhibition at Leopold-Hoesch-Museum Dueren, I made contact with radio journalist Friedrich Riehl, who is a photographer also. He made an informal improvised one shot interview with me which was broadcast as it was taken, without rehearsal or correction.
On this occasion, he photographed me in my studio. This photo is a document. You can see how I do it. There are no preliminary or accompanying sketches. There is no idea in my head. There is no intention to do anything at all. I am open to let things come wherever they come from and whatever they mean.
Most people can't believe that you can start this way: Sketch out of the void right onto the virginal canvas. My experience is: If I try to do it any other way, not daring to jump into the water without lifebelt, taking full risk, I can just about forget it. Don't confuse this with arbitrariness. What comes to surface is precise and clear and most meaningful. Nothing fuzzy or nebulous about it. See for yourself!
The photo shows clearly that I draw with thinned paint and brush, mostly black, sometimes red or blue, without preparation on the white canvas. All three main figures of 292 (at right) are already there. 291, which was begun earlier (lower number), is at the same stage, too, but you can hardly see the figures except the left because of thin paint and coarse reproduction.
Every stroke I do is final, I can't take anything back. Thin strokes signal timidity: If I have to paint them over, chances are you see it clearly in the final painting as I usually paint thin. You can paste thick with oil colors, but this is a totally different quality. If you paint thin, the canvas shines through and gives a bright and fresh overall impression.
Once I tried to record the happenings during the development of a painting. It was a catastrophe. I had to wipe out what I did again and again, the canvas went dirty, was refreshed, but this doesn't help much, you can see it nevertheless. I held a speech on this experience (On observing the creative process). It is not representative on what I do, but interesting as an experience, showing the public a glimpse of what it means to be a painter and invent a painting.
Imagine this! Nobody acts that way in everyday life! We think and take precautions and try to learn from experiences and rehearse and make sure that we can get back if we do it wrong - even performing artists care to minimize their risk. If you read about Modern Art, you will most probably find that the scholar maintains the artist did much thinking to produce his work. The scholar will try to reconstruct this intellectual endeavor for easy digestion. Chances are you find it indigestible.
No doubt, art constructed this way does exist. You'll find out yourself if it is worth considering. Art not constructed on the left side of the brain is incomprehensible to left side scholars. They just don't know what to do with it. They don't know about creativity. They think it is kind of what a computer does. They are scary of the unknown. Very few people observe that this is dangerous to creativity. Miles Davis knew. He used techniques to overcome artistic sterility.
Once he said to his group: "I pay you guys to practise on the bandstand." If you listen to later life performances, you'll observe that he starts at full speed with much pressure and high output and stays with this high level of steaming power for a long time until everybody in the audience and on the stage is off and away and shifted from the left side of the brain to the right side, and if he is sure of that state, he lets go and calms down and stops this high ride all of a sudden and switches to some easy, nice, beautiful, slow and soft melody to swim along and relax and enjoy. At this point, the concert begins.
Here you find all sorts of resources,
In Creative Journal 1.5 I wrote about Betty Edwards' book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain : A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence". It is not about art, but she writes at length about shifting from the left side of the brain to the right side. My paintings develop when I am on the right side. It ought to be the usual thing. Most painters of all ages experienced it the same way.
Of course, I did not know about it. If you look around for a while, you'll find lots of testimonials of artists of all sorts, reporting the same feeling of being a tool through which art is coming into being. You don't learn about this phenomenon in school. In fact, little is known about it. I maintain that it is a method of knowledge.
Everything I ever produced on my own did not really satisfy me. When I made my first painting without trying to achieve anything, it resulted in the first painting I was content with. It is kind of a religious feeling. You achieve something, but it is not created by you, but through you, coming from something greater than you, you being only a means, not the creator.
Now look at the painting again. You can see the power and strength. You see
that this painting is full of meaning. If this painting hangs on your
wall, you will feel the impact without consciously interacting. This painting
will gain significance over the years. It will not wear off. If somebody
visits your place, they may not recognize the treasure at your wall. You
couldn't care less about. If your house burns, you'll make sure that this
painting gets rescued first. It is unique and cannot be replicated.
I wouldn't be able to invent a painting like this.
Chagall, Cattle Dealer
Publish it: If you take the picture as a starting point for some creative work of your own, please send the result as an attachment back to me. I will be happy to publish the results here.
back issues online:
on Art | Creative
Journal- Do It Yourself
Art Journal - A Close Look at Great Art | Pablo Journal - The Louvre Test | Daily Drawing - Art and Anecdotes
Publisher JDD: Werner
© Copyright 1998
Texts and Images
© 1998,1999 · Werner Stürenburg · Germany  ;· Hauptstr. 13 · 32609 Hüllhorst · Tel. 0(049)-5744-511-574 · Fax -575
Read my Blog · See also my personal site