Monday, February 07, 2011

The Ongoing Dance

I've got a stack of things sitting on the printer (which really should be printing fabric) that I've been meaning to share so here goes with the first one. This is from an interview with painter Richard McKinley in the July/August 2010 issue of The Artist's Magazine, and is reminiscent of how Jeanette Gilks described working in her fiber medium in this post.

He mentions that "if you paint seriously [every day] really figure out if you're a control freak or if you like lots of serendipity. Do you work better in a box - being told what to do - or do you need complete rein to do what you want?" I think I lean towards being a box person, although I like some freedom too. This statement was a prelude noting that because, by choice he has spent a lot of time alone training himself, "that isolation can also create sterility in the work: It becomes almost too controlled and predictable." Oops - I think I've been there too, um, might be there right now in fact.

While trying a new technique where he had to give up a certain amount of control, he discovered "I love being in the moment and responding to whatever can happen...That process has made all the difference for me as a painter." And I have to admit, that when I sense I am working that way - in the moment and responding as the work evolves, I enjoy the process much more and I think the results are better too.

And now to the part that reminded me of Jeanette Gilks: The interviewer says, "You must welcome the challenge and enjoy the unpredictability." To which he responds, "I think you've really summed it up. It's the intellectual and the emotional stimulation that I need. The art of painting has often been described as a dance; I describe my painting as a dance partner. Sometimes I step on its feet; sometimes it steps on mine; sometimes we stumble our way all over, and we barely make it to the end; sometimes we quit midway through because it's just not working. But other times I just think, Holy Moly! What was that?! That was great! Painting really is a partnership for me. I don't feel as if I'm the complete boss anymore, and I like that - it keeps me coming back to the easel."

Have you had this experience? I know I have. I've run across this "dance" metaphor before, and I like it. And when it all comes together in the studio, I literally dance!

Follow this link to more from this interview.


Linda said...

Thanks for flagging up this interview. I keep the lid on my box far too much - you've reminded what fun a bit of serendipity can be!

June said...

I'm a terrible dancer, but I love to dance. As you know, I'm one of the serendipity kind -- a box just makes me feel claustrophobic and in a panic. But serendipity doesn't come unless you try and try again. And it's horribly inefficient.

On the other hand, sometimes you get more efficient about being inefficient -- start with something easy and let your mind wander about the room, maundering on about what you might do with that bit over there that needs attention. Before you know it, you pick up the big canvas (or the scissors and the treasured piece of fabric and zippity-zap, you are on your way.

I think it's called deceiving yourself into the work -- or slithering sideways into it. Whatever it is, it's not a tidy box, for sure.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Linda, so glad the interview gave you a jog - I know it did me.

June, you are describing my week in the studio perfectly! I am indeed getting a bit more efficient as I let myself go a bit, let that right brain do some work instead of trying to orchestrate it all myself. After all, it's pretty hard to dance if you've got your nose in the score flaying away at the musicians. I like the slithering sideways image. It's what I'm seeing out of the corner of my eye that is gaining importance it seems.