Gosh! The number of times I haven’t created work I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve because I thought what should I paint? And then that would be followed by the question what work will appeal to others? Followed by what sort of artist do I want to be? Followed by any number of other questions. The result: a feeling of self-defeat and a decision to go do some cleaning or something non-creative.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was having a talk to another of my artist friends about why I hadn’t made any art in a while that the epiphany came. She said to me “just make whatever you want”.
Its THAT simple is it?
And then I found it was that simple.
Yes art can do so many things, can say so many things, but at the beginning and end of the day it can’t do ANYTHING if it hasn’t been created and put out into the world.
So my advice is to paint whatever you want, make whatever you want, draw whatever you want. Meaning (as I’ve said before) is in the eye (or mind) of the beholder.
If you want to create a particular meaning then start by drawing, painting, making things that talk to that meaning or to parts of that meaning.
Then, when you have a massive stack of work (drawings, sculptures, whatever) spend time with them. Arrange them in new ways. Re-draw them together in different ways. Change their colour. Change the medium. Basically just play with them. Have some fun. Don’t take the process so seriously. And eventually you’ll cone to a point where you are saying something. To someone. Probably.
One thing I definitely got from my friend’s comment is Art should be fun. You should enjoy it. Creativity is playfullness. The willingness to imagine, to test ideas, to go where your inner child suggests, to realise that way wasn’t the best way, to be wrong, to hear suggestions, take offerings, take the criticisms, to learn and explore. Art really is an adventure.
So, whether you feel in the mood to just scribble some swirls on a piece of paper and colour the different areas, or whether you plan to paint some masterpiece, the point is just start painting what you want to paint.
Since I stopped analysing my ideas before they were even down on paper I’ve had more creative sparks flying, more ideas and inspiration than I ever had before. And less sorrow in my inability to make people care about my work. The first step to creating anything truly amazing and/or important is to care about your work yourself. And the only way to care about your work is to stop being tricky, or clever, or a great artist and to start being an artist. Artists create things. Artists make things. So do that.