Turn Towards the Familiar 

There was a synchronicity found in an overheard discussion this weekend. The gris of which was an observation that locally, most artists aren’t being seen pulling inspiration from their personal experiences as material for their art work. What is being seen in are artists appropriating images from other artists, artists pulling exclusively from their own imaginations, or artists decorating their worlds with abstraction, but what not being seen are people interacting with their muses. (I’m going to raise my own hand on this too). The irony is, online I’m attracted to those that I see doing exactly this, those that who’s work is based on their lived experience and collaborate with their muse.

Pastel on toned paper


I’m going to use this overheard discussion as a sign that it’s time to more actively move away from using other artists photographs to work and study from. It’s time to break away from appropriation by taking full responsibility for creating my own studies and photos to generate my work. Picking up charcoal and pastels was originally motivated by a desire to be able to confidently draw a portrait from life, specifically from the characters around me. Now, it only makes sense to focus more on the people that are right here in front of me rather than keep returning to experiences and people that aren’t mine to claim. In that direction, I need to not just focus on the experience and the people, but an effort needs to be made to formalize a personal sense of compositional aesthetics by being clear with myself with what I want my drawings to do. I feel that a compositional style has to serve the image as well as the ideas being pushed forward, and then from there develop outward. (Defining and outlining these I’m going to save for another day).

Water soluble graphite on found paper


On that note, the game is now to make it a priority to turn towards the familiar for inspiration and run with it.


Reflected Questions

There’s a saying that’s repeated over and over, “Art reflects the mind that creates it.” If you believe this is true (and I do believe it’s true), then what are you seeing reflected in your current body of work?

Are you attempting to meet an unmet need from childhood or resolve a forgotten buried adult trama? Is it about Connection… acceptance… stability… growth… transcendence..?

is it about desire and if so, desire for what? The obvious? Something different? Something not so obvious?

How is any of this showing up?

I know myself better as a function of creating my Art, but I still need to learn to listen to the finished work with my own eyes to understand both it and better understand what is pushing it forward.


So much to learn with so little guidance. The game plan is keep asking myself questions while venturing out and finding possible answers. Everyday, set up a new round of challenges for action and decisions and see where it goes. Lean in and reach.

Red Dancer

While it’s usually easy to enjoy the drawing process while I’m sunk deeply into it, it’s usually not nearly as easy to enjoy the finished result immediately after stepping out of the glow of the flow. It is all too easy to zero in, seeing all the marks that were missed and feeling the full fresh weight of unmet expectations.

I believe we are all pretty much on the same page on this. It’s something we can all relate too.

After taking a moment (preferably a great many moments), to step away, and look back at a drawing, it’s usually not difficult to remember the delight that was experienced while working the colors into a drawing. Now looking at it, if it was there in its making, it’s often found in the finished drawing. For me, I’m recognizing that drawing doesn’t need to come across as if it’s a specimen pinned down on a sheet of paper, or a mimemic representation of life. Other artists fill that role much, much better than I do and with vastly more conviction. At this point, I’m comfortable with simply exploring the character of my own personal skill while exploring my agendas, and delighting myself with the pleasure of pushing a pastel across a piece of paper.

So far, it’s as straight forward as this. It’s still a joy based process. 

Pink WallFlower

There’s a draw to the fleeting connection through a reciprocal gaze. I can feel the visual suggestion of it in my upper chest. I had a chance to listen to Kandinsky talk about the use of color today and used some of his advise to make sense of this afternoon’s quick drawing. He said red is an activator color, it arouses attention. Got it. Green calms, used in conjunction with a horizontal movement, it helps anchor the image. Yep. Yellow radiates and moves energy towards the collapsing blue shadow. Makes sense. The figure is a play of warm color smeared white. It’s simple, but it works.

Swapping Perfect For Good Enough 

Out of necessity, in the absence of solid feedback, we learn to fall back on the reliance of a subjective self-evaluation of the work that’s sitting in front of us. One of the many questions that needs to be answered isn’t “Is it perfect?” Rather, one of the questions that needs to be asked in the effort to make compelling work is “What feels good enough?”

“Good enough” keeps the wheel moving. Good enough lets us explore new ideas and directions. Keeping in mind “good enough” isn’t the casting aside aesthetics in trade of something new, “good enough ” frees us to make the work that expands our possibilities and find what literally feels right.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. It not good enough, but sometimes all the little bits and pieces, the steps, techniques, and the processes all come together and really, really work well. Sometimes, if we work hard and free enough, we get to swap good enough with perfect.