It’s clichéd now, but when I first saw this bit of philosophy on a decorative sign it seemed pretty profound, especially because it was in the studio of a good friend who grew up in an era when “good girls” aimed to please and did not call attention to themselves. She is one of the smartest, most attractive people I’ve ever known–a true artist–yet she spent a lot of energy reigning in her own uniqueness for fear of offending or overstepping or not measuring up.
Sure, we all know what it means. But when have any of us ever engaged in an expressive, creative act without being influenced by the thought of someone seeing what we’re doing or what we’ve done? I can say, honestly, that I haven’t done much painting, drawing, etc. without being aware that either a fellow-artist, a gallery, a collector or teacher would eventually be seeing my work. And I wonder what I might have done differently if I really approached my work for any length of time with no regard for an eventual viewer. When are we not “performing”? (I intend to investigate this in my “new life”.)
As our work is forming, developing and emerging, reaction from colleagues can inform in ways we could never begin to know left on our own. It can enlighten, expand and edify, adding to our graphic, pictorial and painterly sophistication. And although creating without expectations from others, or even ourselves, is a paramount goal, can we actually do it?
I propose that every now and again when we have “free play” we do it freely, as if no one will EVER see the work produced. That doesn’t mean that you can’t actually show and sell what you’ve created, but for one night we “paint as if no one is looking”. So this week is “free play” in that vein.
The Pacific Standard—“According to research, play can relieve stress, boost creativity, improve brain function, and improve our relationships with other people by fostering trust with others…. There are three main characteristics that we tend to use when we talk about play: It’s voluntary in the sense that you’re not obligated to do it; it’s flexible and can be changed or manipulated, like Play-Doh; and it’s enjoyable and fun.”
Each class this week will be a “free play” class. There will be a talk back. But we won’t put the work up on the wall, we’ll just hear reactions to the process. It could be interesting….