Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 15

9B – 2012
MEDIUM: Charcoal, pastel and graphite on paper
SIZE: Paper Size: 15″ x 10″ – Image Size: 10.5″ x 6.5″

“One gets into a state of creativity by conscious work.”

Henri Matisse 1869 – 1964

Asking an artist why they do what they do is one thing.  Having them prepare a blanket statement, which I assume on artist really likes to do, seems somewhat unnecessary.  I always try to be as honest as I can when creating these perfunctory and required documents.  However, I always feel, well, to be quite honest; as being full of shit. My old standby answer to being asked to write one of these statements was, “if I knew what I wanted to say, I would have just written the statement instead of doing the work!”  Oh, I could tell you what I was attempting to do.  But, regardless of the actual circumstances, nothing would change for you would it?

I mean, would my “statement” be what you needed to say to yourself, “yeah, that’s exactly what I thought he was trying to convey!”  The last time I got into the wherefore and the why of preparing for and executing the work for my show, I tried to present how I was avoiding the tried and true and other comfort zones.  I also tried to illustrate how it was a bit like spinning plates.  It was a good concept but it felt corny no matter how I tried (couldn’t resist) to spin it.  During the opening of that show I said that it could either be sub-titled or titled : ambiguity.  I pushed myself away from being too comfortable for lots of reasons.  I wanted to scare myself.  I wanted to be unsure.  I wanted to somehow prove that I could challenge myself even if it meant to fail.

I’m still not sure if I failed or not.  I still don’t feel comfortable with what I produced.  However, somehow, I feel as though I’m a lot better off for it.  Regardless of any of this, it doesn’t change my work.  It would alter the reasons why those nice people who bought my work bought it in the first place.  I’m chasing my tail.  Talking about the work isn’t as important as doing it.  Talking about why I did it or do it, doesn’t change the work in any way.  If perception is reality, then it is in the eye of the beholder.  Once again, I’m not out to make any statement: grand, creative or otherwise. I’m sticking to my story that the work is the cumulative output of a guy looking for answers to the abstract problems of space, mass and line just to name a few things.

I found this bit of “advice” on the web on how to write a good or better artist statement.  But, before I go there, yes, artists do need to know how to articulate their feelings.  It ads another dimension of professionalism and maturity to them a a whole.  That being said, here’s a few of the tips I found.  Write about what your favorite tool(s) or material(s) are and why.  Describe what you like best about what you do and clarify what you mean when you say that a piece turned out well.  Also discuss what patterns you see emerging in your work whether in your tool or material selection or your particular use of light, color or texture.  Another insight to offer is how and why you may work in a manner that is either the same or different from the way you were taught.

Okay.  This is valid advice.  I caught myself beginning to read an artist statement at an opening recently and (maybe it wasn’t written well enough – I’ll never know) and stopped.  What flashed in my mind was, who really reads this?

If you’re going to play the game – try this website: Instant Artist Statement Generator

Posted on: 10/09/2012, by :
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