Intentionality & Expression

I've been thinking quite a bit lately on how I can grow as an artist, on what would stretch & enhance my visual work. For the last few weeks I've been feeling the compulsion to grow and reach for more...to root down even deeper and excavate what lies dormant, whatever is I'm searching for that's waiting for me to unearth  it. I hear its desire for expression and I've taken to trying out new tools, and studying new techniques in videos and books in an effort to find how to articulate it. In the process I'm learning what my limits are and where my capacity & skill need to be further developed. 

I'm exploring...and questioning, and "ruining" sheets of canvas in the process. It's honestly just as extremely frustrating as it is liberating.  I'm also making a mess on my work tables, which led to the current thought sitting at the forefront of my mind after an attempt at cleaning them up: As an artist, I'm afraid to let go & go deeper, press inward, and unearth what's calling me to be expressive but...unrestrained. As bold or declarative as my work may be with color & subject matter, I still find I've been holding back. It is wild but only within my self-imposed boundaries. I'm afraid to do the next level of work necessary to free my artistic voice even further. I also think this is largely due to my desire & efforts to become intentional & methodological with my expressions. 

That is, after all, the message I was given 2.5 years ago when I asked my arts & humanities professor what she thought of my work. I had only been painting for 6 months and was questioning if it was just a hobby or something more for me. She said she liked it-loved my use of color. "I think if you could bring intentionality to your artistry, you'd really have something here." Art should be...intentional, shouldn't it? Or perhaps not. We never really arrived at a definitive answer about that, or what art actually is or isn't, that semester. (Especially in regards to abstract & expressionism) I think I took that message and internalized it too deeply as I've created since then. I've leaned too far right, focusing so greatly on intention that I've shut out intuition and being at times when it probably would've benefited me creatively. 

That brings me to my work tables. Scattered across their surfaces are what's left behind: drips, drops, splatters & scrapes from pieces I completed. They are not organized into a structured composition. There is nothing intentional about these remnants that are scattered across my tables but when I stopped trying to scrape them off and just stared at them, I saw the freedom I've been craving to convey lately on page & canvas. It made me teary eyed because I recognized the kind of visual expressions I want to translate throughout my work. I saw that I've been thinking too much about the what and how-to of expression instead of just the act itself. Instead of just being and yielding to what's there. On some level I've come to care too much if my visual work is likable, digestible, or even meaningful to others. I've been trying too hard (mostly out of fear) and as a result I've been stifling my creativity. Maybe subconsciously I'm still searching for validity as I get used to identifying and calling my "untrained" self an artist...

It was this flurry of thoughts that forced me to quit trying to scrape away what's been left behind on my tables as I cleaned up my workspace earlier today. I'm going to keep them there and add to them as I keep pushing myself to grow beyond my current boundaries, piece by piece. I need them there to hold me accountable as I strive for courage & not fear when I show up and sit down in this arena to make. I need them there as a reminder to use everything I've got and leave nothing to waste. 

It it makes me wonder what my art (and my life) would look like if I became more intentional about just trusting The Muse & my intuitive urges.