The first thing I had to mull over was what art meant to me, and that is something I periodically examine as its an important issue for me. It's a question that most artists (if not all) end up wrestling with periodically...
So I sat down to consider that age old question and I've found some answers that fit my psyche.
When I paint, I do so to express something within my soul that needs to come out. I know that probably sounds a bit hokey, but there it is!
Many times, I lose myself in the act of painting and time flies by without me being aware of it. That's an almost meditative state for me.
Real art, not just the flexing of the muscles of your skills for the sake of it, comes from the soul and has some sort of impact on the audience. If it connects that is...
Sometimes, I really think that part of the process depends on where the viewer is at, they may not be able to understand the 'language' that the artist is speaking.
I've mentioned before in previous posts that I started out as a portrait artist. And I started selling portraits when I was just sixteen years old and not really settled into my own identity... It made me very uncertain about my own boundaries with regards to my art and also very malleable on what I would draw for others... I was a very gifted artist, so my portraits were very realistic and my customers loved them.
But over the years, I ended up seeing many different scenarios as to what people wanted and how the art was treated. I learned that I was actually a conduit for producing a commodity! 'How would this fit in my living room; can you put in more blues and greens so it goes with my sofa; it should be bigger/smaller; no I don't want them in profile'...
In time I felt like I was just slamming them out with no real room for creativity or changes in composition, and basically, no real artistic input allowed from me, the 'artist'!
It really killed my enjoyment of the art itself, as it became a job, and a chore, something I didn't really do for my own enjoyment anymore. The end result of the process was that I just about killed my own love of art expression with twenty years of portraiture.
Last year I did a portrait, probably the first one in over fifteen years just to see how it felt.
And I was very, very surprised to find that time can heal, if you're patient...
Although I wouldn't ever return to commissioned realistic portraits, it was fun to flex those muscles again. Just to see if they still existed!
And even though the finished product you see is really nice to look at and my friend and his wife loved to have a portrait of their children... I don't call it art.
I'd classify what I did above as the product of a technical skill on my part. I'm not truly expressing myself, there are no layers of complexity and metaphor to the piece and it's just a record of that point in the development of those kids. A good photographer could do the job here, it's just a novelty to see it in pencil format.As I went through the stages of my life, the art started coming back in quiet ways... I had started doing surrealistic drawings in my early teens and since I never ever sold or marketed that type of artwork, it was a safe haven for my creativity.
Over time, I moved away from realism and my expression flowed into surreals and abstracts... And as that happened, I found I could include portraits of a sort in some of my pieces, since I now had creative control and the faces melded into the art to express my personality within my art. Much like a window into my own soul.
The upside of that coin is that I felt I had to discover my art from within myself, not through external sources or influences.. I was on a personal mission to hone my style and focus it into something truly meaningful for me personally. I slowly started pushing my own boundaries and definition of what I would create... As I did that, I found out that I regained something I thought I had lost; the joy of just creating art.
Don't get me wrong; I was lost, really, really lost; but I figured out that I had to find my answers on my own, without commercial pressure to produce a product, or copy someone else's expression...
And that's what I ended up doing.
I've been surfing the Internet lately and looking at different websites, checking out what other artists have created, and I've noticed that my art doesn't look like anyone else's. I'm happy with that, because at the very least, I'm truly only expressing my soul, and that is what art really means to me!
Images - artwork by Teresa Young:
1. Unnamed Glass Art - May 2010, 2. Fractal Node - Sep.2001, 3. Suspended Dehydration - Oct.2001, 4. Portrait of the Diehl Children - Nov.2009, 5. Unnamed Abstract - Jun.2002, 6. Unnamed Glass Art - May 2010.