Letting Go to Make Art

It’s the last week of term at the Fremantle Arts Centre, where I teach drawing painting and printmaking.  People in all my classes are rushing to get work finished. During this hive of activity I have become aware of the immense pressure people put themselves under to make something which they regard as “good”.  (Also I have been listening to a Deepak Chopra CD and his thoughts about life translate very well to making art.)
The paradox is that the more you attached you are to a perfect result the less likely you are to create a good result. The best art is made when you get into the process of making and put the outcome on the back-burner.  Enjoy the process and over time good results become the by-product of this enjoyment. Note I said over time – not every piece is going to be a winner.
One student said to me that they expected each drawing they did to be better than the last, and while this is an admirable goal, creativity is not linear. Especially not in the short term. Sometimes getting a lot of stuff wrong puts you on a steeper learning curve.  Sometimes you need to make several terrible drawings to get to the good one.
We all love those magical times when things flow and artwork  comes together in a  seemingly effortless way. Where you feel surprised that you made this. When you were in the zone.  But it’s not going to happen every time, and the more you attached you are to this idea the less likely it is that it will. I have proved this to myself many times.
The best way to make good art is to:

  • Take risks, its only a drawing (or a print or a painting).
  • Move out of your comfort zone, try something new.
  • Let go of your attachment to good  results.
  • Go easy on yourself, in fact be generous with yourself, let yourself mess things up, this gives you the space learning and for creative solutions.
  • If things need changing, change them.

Above all enjoy the process, didn’t you take up art for enjoyment?
PS: I’m Still making paintings for my solo exhibition next year at Kingfisher Gallery. These three small oil paintings are not finished but I thought I’d show you anyway.  To see more work for my solo exhibition in march 2012  click here

Small paintings in progress
Small paintings in progress

Also if you want to ask about my classes just send me an email.

4 Replies to “Letting Go to Make Art”

  1. The development of an artist is like walking up a spiral. You go round in circles ending up at the same place but at a higher level each time. But if you fail to progress its back to the same place but at a lower level. don’t worry be happy as tomorrow’s artwork will always be better than today’s. My ultimate artwork will not be finished, but I will one day…just don’t like the idea of being there that day. art is a Zen-like ‘journey’ [how I hate that concept] for me. yes we all have a past littered with duff artworks. the future will have fewer of them.

  2. I agree with you, I was careful not to use the word journey as it sounds like such a cliche’ but it is true. Your concept of the spiral rings true for me too, I can see it in my own work. Concentrate on process not outcome.

  3. Thanks for posting this piece Shana,
    it’s a great reminder to me about enjoying the process and not thinking about the end result. I love the reference you made to Deepak Chopra and letting go of attachments!
    I am getting ready to approach galleries at the moment and am trying to complete a series of 9 paintings at the same time and taking time out of the “pressure” I put myself can help to remind me of the reason why I became an artist – I love to paint! It’s good to stop and remember why we are artists.
    Sari Cecilia

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