Tuesday, January 30, 2018

An Artist's Progression

Earlier Art Journals
2004 (with Tristan's drawing on the right)

I'm sharing with you just some of the many pages that I have made over the years. I'm posting them without judgment or commentary. An offering, palms up (as some might say) to show you just a fraction of my journey as an artist and human being.

I need to preface this by saying I don't have access at the moment to my early art journals: 1997-2006 (well, and almost all of the ones above) are out of reach at the moment. I swiped all of the above photos from my own blog posts over the years (I went through and the first journal page from January of that year, is what you see above.) I didn't choose them because I liked them better than the others, I just went through and picked the first one from each January since I started blogging in 2006. The two photos at the top are also swiped from various blog posts on journal keeping and contain some of my very early journals (the top post has one of my first art journals at the very top of the photo while the second photo has a very early journal on the right hand side, second one down.)

In my twenty years of teaching art journaling, far too many people come to workshops thinking that what they make both in and out of class should be "perfect." This past weekend, I was listening to an interview with artist Wayne Thiebaud. In addition to being a working artist, he also was an art instructor and he said students would come to class thinking that they knew everything. He believes that in order to be able to create you have to first build up your art vocabulary. He said people would show up and what they knew (or thought that they knew was the equivalent of having a nine word dictionary.) 

I have various thoughts as to why we think that all forms of making should be judged as good or bad. I think that a lot of it has to do with our education system. I think competition and having to be "good" or "better" is also part of it. I think that art making and creativity is frowned upon unless you can make money from it. There are other reasons, too, but I'm more interested in getting past these thoughts. 

My thoughts are that in order to implement the ideas that we have in our heads, we first have to learn the basics. I go bonkers when folks say, "There are no rules in art!" Well, there are rules (not to mention basic health and safety issues.) You have to learn the rules in order to break them. Then you have to do the work. 

The more work you do, the more confidence you will gain and the better you will get at your craft. 

"The purpose of art is not to produce a product. The purpose of art is to produce thinking. The secret is not the mechanics or technical skill that create art - but the process of introspection and different levels of contemplation that generate it. Once you learn to embrace this process, your creative potential is limitless." - Erik Wahl 

I think that the more we make, the better we get not just as artists but also as human beings. Learning is good. Making is good. Thinking is good. I sometimes think that we have forgotten all of this.

My thoughts in sharing this is that I hope it encourages you to keep making, keep learning, keep showing up for yourself. Ask the questions. Don't judge, just make. Then make some more. Date your pages (or at least your inside covers when you start and finish a book) so you can see how much you have learned. Do the work, it will build your confidence. 

Palms up. 


Aimeslee Winans said...

Oh. My. Stars. Had to Pin this post for remembering and looking at from time to time. YOU ARE AMAZING, Kelly. What a veritable feast for the eyes! Always one of my very fave-faves <3 !!! xoxoxoxoxo

MY MUSINGS said...

Kelly, your thoughts on art are wonderfully shared and stated!
Love the quote!!
I work on my art daily, and I do it JUST FOR FUN! It makes me so HAPPY! That is enough for me~ Plus my family goes like to look at all my junk journals and glue journals, and painted papers~

MsShutterbugg said...

I’ve been drawing and taking art classes since elementary school and had an excellent art department in high school and I know for a fact there’s always something new to learn about in art, that’s what makes it so great! I admit going into college I did know a bit more than some students but I never assumed I knew everything and I never will. I yearn for knowledge especially when it comes to art and many other things! If it was up to me I’d be in art school the rest of my life!

kerrydahlin said...

Amen! (Can I say that?!? :) This is so well said. I totally agree...show up and be faithful to the process. AND thank YOU Kelly for your consistent contribution to the art world.