|Seeking Balance, (c) 2013 Margaret Bremner|
Tangles: Beadlines, Black Pearlz, Florz, Ogen, Paizel, Tipple
To me, making art is seeking a fine balance between my go-with-the-flow, inspiration, do what feels right, process-is-important half and the half of me that knows something about composition and form and tonal values and wants the end product to look nice.
I recently answered a question in Ariane Goodwin's art business newsletter. Just as in real estate where the three most important things are location, location, and location, Ariane proposed that the biggest mistake artists make is not knowing the answers to these three questions: Why are you painting this image? Why are you painting this image? and Why are you painting this image? That was an interesting thing to think about. Here's my response:
I (almost) never begin a work with the thought that "I want to portray this thing, or communicate that idea". Sometimes I don't know what it is I'm going to communicate until the piece is almost finished and I have a title for it. That said, I always have a very general idea of what I think I'm going to do - houses, trees, mandala, etc. - but anything beyond that develops as I'm working. In very general, I am also hoping to communicate things like a love of beauty, a sense of the sacred, concepts like wholeness, balance, joy, and transformation.
I suspect that this is how children work. They don’t decide to draw such-and-such. They just draw. When they’re finished (or nearly) it looks like something and then they tell us, “Look! It’s Superman with tulips!” or “This is you and daddy with an alligator and a box of treasure.” I think that we THINK they decide ahead of time what they’re going to draw, and we’re terribly impressed with their creativity, never thinking that it JUST HAPPENED because they were open to things just happening.
I think we choose our subject matter because something about it resonates with something inside us. If we can identify what that is (a color? a mood? a combination of shapes?) then we are better able to try to share that buoyant moment with our viewers.
Of course, choosing subject matter doesn't apply to classic zentangle, but we still choose tangles. That child-like process of just seeing what happens is a key element of zentangle. There are no mistakes that can't become something more interesting. On the other hand, choosing subject matter often does apply to zentangle-inspired art.Titles are important to me. I think they help people to connect with the art on a non-visual level. For those not immersed in the visual the way an artist is, this is not only helpful but possibly necessary to the appreciation of the art.
What do you think? How do you work? Do you have favorite subjects, and if so, why do you like them? Do you rely a lot on inspiration or do you like to do a lot of planning?