Friday, April 10, 2009

When to Pause, When to Stop

This printed and painted silk work is resting for the moment, waiting for me to decide if it is complete. When I start feeling confused and uncertain about a work in progress, I step away. Choices made in confusion or frustration seldom succeed.

Knowing when to stop and when a work needs "something more" is a continuous challenge. A single additional element can bring a piece to life -- or become a gnawing distraction. Will the work feel clear and strong or miss the mark? Those questions always circle beneath the surface.

The energy that connects an artist to a work in progress can create a giddy state of elation one minute, disappointment and frustration the next. When the level of engagement is high, options and ideas can roll through the maker's mind with a dizzying speed. That focused concentration and energy become True North for most artists -- so we return to our studios day after day, to the failures and frustrations and elated moments because it fully engages every cell and fiber of our beings to create. An addictive elixir.

Painters often paint an area one day, passionately inspired, only to walk in and completely alter the surface the next day. Like moving waters, the currents change, swift one day, quiet the next.

People sometimes think artists who work abstractly just throw some marks and colors on a surface and pronounce it "art." For the artist, creating the work is like crafting a contained universe where every shape and mark have a relationship and connection to every other one, where the presence or absence or marks, shapes, colors and lines all contribute to an overall visual experience and yes, a story. The artist has a vision, an idea, a story to tell -- and abstract work requires more effort to "read", but for the maker, creating a visual language to express ideas is worth the work and effort.

Whatever I decide about this particular piece, I can mine its surface for successful ideas to bring to a new work, a starting point in an ever deepening and fully engaging process.


  1. I'm glad to have found your blog again, I always enjoy your explorations.

  2. You have most graciously and beautifully expressed an experience that I know to be true for myself.

  3. Hi Jeanne,
    What a wonderful post. It resonates deeply with my own experience.

    Your piece reminds me of cave paintings (a favorite subject of mine), both in the palette and the movement. I don't know whether I would add to it or not, but I love the direction you have taken.

  4. just came this way by way of karoda...i like the way you express tour thoughts