Thursday, July 1, 2010
When I was in my late twenties, I decided to go back to school to get a teaching certification in art. At The University of South Florida, I had a number of wonderful professors, but one of them, Richard Loveless, taught me some particularly valuable lessons, many of which had to do with being an artist. One of the exercises we did individually involved taking a stack of 50 sheets of blank paper, along with a favorite mark-making tool, and sitting in a quiet place, without interruption, begin making marks on those pages. The rule was not to think about it...make marks, without judgement, without thinking, without planning and without editing. Page after page, we weren't to make finished "drawings", but making marks that came from the inside out, turning the page and beginning the next when the moment felt right. On a certain day, we all came together as a class and laid out our 50 drawings at the same time on the floor, filling the room entirely. What was immediately clear, and this was obviously the point of the exercise, was that each person in that room had a very individual inner landscape of mark-making...a way of "drawing" that was unique to them. It was a very powerful moment for me...to see my own marks, pure, having come from the place where my intuition resides.
So, even now, when I find that I'm overthinking my work or I have a sense I'm trying to make art from a place that isn't my own in order to please an audience, I come back to making what I call meditation drawings. I still have that original stack of 50 pages, which I cherish, but the drawing above is from another time, a decade or more later, when I came back to make those very intuitive meditation drawings.
And here I am again, yet another decade or so later, making mediation drawings, now more minimal, along with bits of text pieces collaged on during various stages of the layering of paint and drawing...but there it is, the recognition of my own voice...my own voice loud and clear. As an artist, there is maybe nothing more important than discovering and rediscovering your voice.
By the way, I never did get that teaching certification...I found that really what I needed was to be back in school...and perhaps it was just in order to have that experience of finding my own voice. It's an exercise I recommend to anyone that is willing to let go in order to find their own set of marks.