Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Art as Play

17" x 14" ink, watercolor, and gouache on heavyweight bristol paper

This painting reminds me of a time, some years ago, when I decided to paint a masterpiece, I felt ready, I felt willing, I felt inspired to make a masterpiece, but try as I might, nothing would come. I stared at the blank page, pen, brush, pencil poised. I showed great discipline. I felt great energy. But still, stubbornly, the page remained blank.

Luckily, I let myself off the hook, declaring that if the creative process can't be steered, then I would try letting it steer me. Half an hour later, I had unpacked my sewing box, ostensibly in an effort to organize, but instead I had become absorbed in a collection of buttons, fingering them and sorting them, enjoying their shapes and colors and textures. Part of me worried that I was wasting time, but I tried not to pay attention to that part of me. I was having fun.

Next I unpacked beading supplies, and for several days, spent all my spare time stringing beads, taking pleasure in color.

And finally, I found myself drawing and painting again, making this, the first of what became dozens of paintings in a new style: intricate, colorful, increasingly fanciful. And fun. That was the missing piece in my determination to paint a masterpiece. I forgot that art is play. I've posted some of these play-paintings, and I'll be posting more, but this is the one that got me started.

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