Experiments and Quagmires

At the outset of August I began working on a series of smaller works in order to rattle my studio routine a bit. Drawing and painting is rife with tricks for rejuvenating the artist's perception: turn the canvas upside down, shift your scale, crop out the best bits, work with your other hand, experiment with new materials, etc. The usefulness or necessity of such tricks really depends on what sort of creative personality you possess. Those that draw/paint for profit are reportedly less likely to tweak the stylistic strengths that allow them to eat each week. For others, who approach their artwork as a means of exploration, these experiments can supply their work with new paths of evolution. 

The larger dimensions that I'd grown accustomed to working on wasn't an arbitrary expression of artistic whim, it was a well calculated set of measurements designed to help, not hinder, my pocketbook. Mat board comes in a standard size (32" x 40"). Once you demand even a 1/4" beyond that your framing costs jump exponentially. So that was the first consideration. Subordinate to the mat size came the need to make as large a drawing as possible in order to ask a higher price for the piece. The amount of work to create any drawing is dependent on countless factors; most of which the art patron will not readily understand or appreciate. Therefore, the artist has to figure out the best way to recoup the time and labor for these "factors" in other ways. While few art buyers will admit to harboring a tendency to correlate the size of the work with its price tag there is no doubt in my mind that this happens all the time. And while I want to get wildly offended at the idea of 2D art being priced like carpeting, I recognize that my outrage will only result in a brief glow of self-righteousness that will do nothing to remedy this social perception.

So what of the smaller works? The verdict is still out whether or not they are proving as inspiring or challenging as I'd hoped. I am appreciating the opportunity to drop a different color cast into the compositions, and the organic edge appeals to me, but I feel that I may slip into a realm of simplicity and gimmickry that would undermine the power of the larger works were they to be shown together. There's also a blatantly contemporary feel to them, and along with that comes some of the vapidity that our contemporary time condones. That's a conceptual quagmire for me as it both supports, and yet subtly undermines, my commitment to utter artistic sincerity these past three years. At this point the whole endeavor feels like that awkward stage in a relationship where you feel you should jump ship but still hope that if you just persevere a bit longer you'll regain equilibrium.

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