Stop worrying where you’re going, move on
If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone
Just keep moving on…
(from Sunday in the Park with George, by Stephen Sondheim)
“No one looks at a flower garden and tears their hair out trying to figure out what it means.”
– Jackson Pollock
Once the work is on the wall, it’s out of your hands and into those of the viewer to see it however they will. It is a completion of the cycle. A time to let go and let the viewer’s interpretation further inform you, (but not shape your future efforts).
Trust them, but only a little. They will often see mysteries that you had yet to observe. At the same time, if they don’t approach the work with an open mind and patience, they may see nothing. They may look for what they already know and not finding it in your work, they move on. “One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way.” Vincent Van Gogh. Do not let this discourage. As Van Gogh also says: “Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.”
So where does that leave us in relationship to our audience? We know there are symbols and visual cues that tell viewers how to look at a work of art, but the unaware may be unresponsive. We know there is an aesthetic that may or may not be shared. We know that most people who open their wallets when purchasing art are looking for the proverbial “something to go over the couch”. How do we steel ourselves for either acceptance or rejection? (Acceptance can be just as puzzling as rejection.)
One of my favorite quotes about painting comes from Franz Kline:
“You paint the way you have to in order to give, that’s life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving… The final test of a painting, theirs, mine, any other, is: does the painter’s emotion come across?” Giving all, giving your best, giving yourself, giving your faith in the process and intention despite your doubt. Being willing to be “wrong” and expose it with all the honesty you can muster–giving indeed.
This may strike a chord or pose a question. Either way, a worthy ponder as we move on…..