Sunday, April 26, 2015

Don't be afraid and don't be so hard on yourself!

Last weekend I went to my monthly art classes. As always, I had fun and learned something in each class. I always enjoy learning and while actual pain is never involved, sometimes there is discomfort. I'll come back to this in a minute.

The morning class lesson was on pastel color choices and a few techniques. We used Copic markers and a stamped image from Whipper Snapper Designs called "Easter Bunny Basket".  This cute and right up my alley...gosh, that's an old and odd saying, isn't it?
The grass didn't photograph well in this picture, it really isn't neon. This class was fun and the one thing I was aware of while working on this is that I am light handed when applying color, even though I like color. That isn't news to me though.

The afternoon class was mixed media and introduced us to art journals. Know what is scary about journals? Those pages are bound. Bound into a book. Not to be ripped out without jeopardizing other pages in the book.


Initial thought: whatever I do has to be {gulp} perfect.

Instructor Amy said otherwise but like the adult voices in a Peanuts animated TV special, I partially heard her words and partially heard  "Mwahmwahmwah, wah wah mwah" (if I researched that correctly, that faux speech was created with a trombone and a muted bell). This is not a reflection on Amy but on fear overriding senses. 

What was I afraid of? I told myself to calm down and continue. I did continue but wasn't really calm. I finished the pair of pages at home and here they are:
I know what I would do differently now, so I learned something, right? 

I went on to work on two more pages a few days later. I'm not feeling the love there either, but again, I learned something. 

The real AHA! moment came on Friday when I went with friends to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). We went to see the Diego Rivera-Frida Kahlo exhibit. 
Rivera's most famous murals are part of the DIA. They are huge and are my earliest memory of the DIA as a child on a class trip. I was amazed at the size, puzzled by some of what I saw and was too young to understand (symbolism) and frightened by some of the depicted characters. 
The above photo is the Rivera Court. The ceiling is skylights. The furnace shown above on the right and more closely below, is best seen around noon when sunlight hits it and really makes the furnace glow. 
The gas mask figures (working on bombs) that frightened me as a school girl. 
One more picture from this exhibit, Rivera and Kahlo, painted by Frida Kaho:
Finally....getting to my AHA!....I don't know what makes "great art" great. I'm not deciding that today or likely any other day. I am not comparing myself to anyone. Here is my take-away: regardless of whatever style this art is categorized as, I recognize it but don't necessarily like it. I don't like that Frida's feet are impossibly small among other things. Proportion bothered me in many of the works of both of these artists. What I see as flaws didn't bother these artists. Whether they were intentional and symbolic, or just details of less importance doesn't matter. They kept drawing and painting, either because they enjoyed what they were doing and didn't want to stop or had something to say (more likely with these two) and could not stop until they were heard/seen.

I am not seeking to be considered a great artist. I am not seeking to have my work recognized by others because of a signature style or use of color. Who am I worried about judging my work or reason for creating? No one really. 

Like most of us, I am my own worst critic. I am going back to journal to experiment, to doodle, to do whatever pleases me because my art doesn't have a political message. I am not making a living from this, I don't need to please someone else for financial reward. Creating makes me happy and if someone else sees it and smiles too, that is a pleasant bonus. 

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