I Am A Broken Record (or perhaps the Walrus)


Knowing; knowing everything; knowing how to make ‘this do that’ or ‘that do this’ is no substitute for passion and inspiration.  Nor is it usually the path to such.  It is the thing we hang on to for some assurance we’re doing it right when the tension of doing ‘it’ with belief and point of view—right or wrong– brings a vitality to the creative endeavor and to the result that is far more valuable than “right”.  The courage of conviction turns an act of discovery into a statement and, perhaps, into a unique vision.

Paraphrasing Len Goodman paraphrasing Leonard Bernstein:  When passion is too much for talk, sing; when it is too much for singing, dance.

All of our talking about color interaction and theory has had some eye-opening, some gee whizzes and some useful information, but the result is mostly still talk. It has little passion.  Color has the power to dance. But so many careful brushes yield so many dead brushstrokes.  We want dance!

In doing color research I ran across a video by someone of which whose name that, I am sorry to say, I did not take note.  He said he had been painting for 25 years when someone told him three things that were new wisdom for him: Preserve integrity of brush strokes.  Be authoritative.  Use more paint.

Recall the last time you put brush to page.  Did the brush strokes have integrity?  Were they authoritative? Did you use luscious amounts of paint? If not, what will it take for you to approach your work with enough passion to allow the colors to dance?  Will you continue being tentative until you understand color theory, or drawing, or composition, or any of it?

Jonathan Larson worked at Moondance Diner in New York for nine years while writing and composing theater musicals before finally quitting his job and committing to one of the musicals on which he’d been working–it was Rent.  During previews he died unexpectedly from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm at the age of 35. He was posthumously awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony award for the show.

Don’t wait to be bold and loose with paint and brush.  Don’t wait for skills to develop (they will develop-be patient, but don’t wait.) Don’t wait for inspiration, go out and find it–look to the masters; to other artists, but make them your own; observe nature; listen to music; play with elements; notice what grabs your attention and breathe it in.  Kierkegaard wrote:  “Life must be lived forward but understood backwards.” Paint forward.  Understand it backwards.  Perhaps a broken record plays best that way too.

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