Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Absence ... makes the he(art) grow fonder"

The title for this post at first glance perhaps comes off as sounding rather cliche. It is certainly well worn with use... but the wisdom contained within it should neither ... in my humble opinion be disregarded, nor should it be underestimated in its intrinsic value to the creative individual. Rest... or stasis is a valuable part of the creative process.

Stasis can be defined as a state of stability, balance or equilibrium during which no evolutionary growth is either noted or felt. In art forms like painting and literature it is referred to as a "block." In the sporting world this condition is described as a "slump." In either case... it simply means that the usual vigour and predictably high standards expected in terms of performance... is noticeably absent and is viewed as unacceptable. Such is the condition of human expectation. We falsely lead ourselves to believe everything in life can be measured in an linear upward curve... a new zenith always in sight.

Common sense should tell us that such an expectation is unrealistic and unachievable. The creative growth of anything is carried out in bursts... in huge jumps and gains. But this is the moment is when that universal law "that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction" takes effect. We tend to "plateau"... even off in performance... just as occurs in attempts at weight loss dieting regimens. There comes a natural time when such growth and development must grind to a too abrupt halt. Learning to accept the fact of its existence within and deal with it in a positive light... rather than becoming overly critical and self-deprecating should become the goal.

As an artist, think of the situation as an actual painting project. Each painting is composed of various necessary and predictable elements. When used carefully and in concert, we achieve harmony, colour, temperature and mood through the application of pigments of varied hue, chroma and thickness... hopefully with a variety brushwork. Within that painting... harmony... balance and equilibrium is created through a push n' pull process which weaves together these elements in a tapestry-like composition. Then consider what influential mentors never fail to employ in their own work... or to mention to their students. That cardinal rule goes like this:

"Always leaves spaces and places for the viewer to rest as they explore your painting surface. Those spaces are as important as any other of the above-mentioned ingredients for success"

In music... that halting... intentionally placed rest creates excitement. The preceding dazzlingly beautiful crescendo of most classical music... is drawn emphatically to a halt... either with an abrupt ending... or a correspondingly sweet decline into that glorious state of absolute silence... which in my own mind... is indeed.... golden!

As I visit various blog sites... even some whose works I greatly admire, I have become increasingly aware of individuals beating themselves up... or berating their work as "skippers"... "unfinished symphonies"... et al. Others whine and complain... some even give up entirely. To them, I would offer that the creative process in truth is a journey... not a destination which can be arrived at on any predictable schedule... or by magic overnight success. Basing one's success upon the flow of greenbacks in one's direction is a huge mistake and offers little more than discouragement in return... especially in today's tough economy.

If I have anything to offer to fellow artists, it would be this short list of principles that I have tried to embrace and live by:

  • Paint what you love most. 
  • Always paint from within. 
  • Trust your own good heart, for it knows the way. 
  • Choose a dream to work towards... then live it.
  • Risk failure. Failure is merely an opportunity to learn.
  • Make room and time in your life for family and other interests outside of painting.
  •  Be open and eager to integrate ideas from these external sources into your work.
  • Avoid those who are unduly critical and negative in spirit. Better to travel alone.

Make a joyful noise... celebrate... SMILE!... and be happy because you choose to be so!

I send out this message to my blogging Friends who have encouraged my journey. Know that my own recent "quiet" in my own life and blog posting is merely what I have just described. I am busy with necessary non-art tasks like yard work... family... creating the new card designs for the printer... taking regular walks alone and sharing time with Deb... watching the birds and our magnificently beautiful River in front of us every day. Does that sound negative... desperate or discouraging to you? It is not... because I choose to feel otherwise! By the way.... during the carrying out of all of these above ideas... I have two new projects already in the works. Here is the "start" for the first one. HA HA!!!

Good Painting to ALL!!!

"Light"... cannot exist... except that one has experienced and fully understands "Darkness."

"Let there be Light....!"

Stay tuned!....


  1. I can only imagine that you must lose patience with my complaining and whining, Bruce. My husband sees me that way so I guess I must be. Funnily enough, I try so hard not to be like that. Sigh...

    I personally cannot paint every single day. I just do not have the energy and when I do not beat myself up for it, I find that indeed is a time of generating ideas and lists in my head of new ideas. I really should write new ideas down as I tend to forget them. LOL

    I am working on a watercolor piece right now that is making me so happy as I do see growth in myself with this one. Can't wait to see it finished!!

  2. Good morning Sherry!... Thanks for dropping by and for adding your own thoughts and sentiments to the post! I much value your opinions and ideas.

    Your last sentence is the most important one for me personally. I created and extend my ideas in it to encourage people ... rather than to discourage them. Speaking openly an truthfully has always been important to me... and remains so for me to this day.

    Adversity visits us all. Life is complicated... uniquely for each of us in our separate journeys. Art is a common passion which we share. It need not divide us ... or threaten us... or attempt to "cut us into the same cookies." Each cookie should have its unique taste.

    My words are intended as gentle guides... support (I hope) and NOT the "gospel according to St Bruce." I choose my words carefully and truthfully spend far too much time thinking about and crafting each post... and then creating a personalized... unbiased and thoughtful response to each and every comment left.

    Lately... I have been seriously considering the value of proceeding with the blog. Perhaps ... my interests and those of my Friends would be better spent... just painting! Still.... a work in progress

    Glad to hear about your new water colour... Good luck with it! I see growth in both your artistic and personal struggles. Just do your best... nd be proud of your Self Sherry! "You"... have a good heart!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce, you're right about painting what you feel and being true to yourself. That's the only way to produce good art.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what emerges from the blackness!

    All the best,

  4. Good evening Keith!... Thanks for your continued presence and understanding. There is no other reason for making art... except that it gives you... and others joy... when it is shared!

    I look forward to exploring... and travelling beyond the blackness as well. Isn't the mind really a dark and mysterious chasm always... from whence comes light and promise?

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Another wonderful post. I can certainly relate.

    Painting should only be done for the shear love of creating.

    I've challenged myself to paint my grandchildren. I am tempted to revisit that challenge, as time seems always in short supply but I can't think of anything I love more... And that in itself, is all the incentive I need.

    I've enjoyed your blog posts. I hope that now and then you will keep on touch with all of us. Never feel pressured. Family, friends and yard work first!!!

  6. i've missed you my friend. i'm envious of your days and the beauty surrounding you. rest is as important as work, one must make room for new thoughts, new desires. wonderful post as always my friend!

  7. Hi there Wendy!... Thanks for stopping by and for your supportive (as always) comments!

    I do have my priorities down correctly... in the order that you have mentioned. That wasn't always so... I must say... but I have leaned through my experiences.

    Look forward to seeing your portraits! Paint on!

    Good Portraiting!
    Warmest regards,

  8. Hi Suz!.... And I have missed you too! Nice to see the path you are now on... painting and linking/connecting with new Friends! All good my dear!

    The Walk piece is really "hummin"... full of richness in detail and yet still fresh and painterly!

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Good painting... Much Peace and Happiness Suz!
    Warmest regards,