Friday, June 24, 2011

Meandering Thoughts on Herding Cats

I’ve heard the phrase "herding cats" said with great exasperation when describing dealing with artists. I’m not sure we deserve the huge sighs of frustration any more than anyone else but one of things they might be upset about is that artists never stay on one path for long. Did you know that? They are constantly changing and trying new things. Okay, a few are stuck on autopilot and keep repeating what works but most artists are on a continual search for the best way to express themselves or an idea. They might switch mediums, like changing from watercolor to oils and once there, they might try abstracts and line drawings and adding pastels into the mix. And oh lookie what happens when I add a layer of wax to this! I wonder what it will look like if I carve away some of that paint with this razor…and so on. Its curiosity, it a penchant for looking for what hasn’t been done before, it’s letting go of fear and stepping into the unknown. If we are to be fearless with our art, we can then be fearless in our lives as human beings. No growth and maturation without stepping out onto some limbs!
It’s easier to feel comfortable in our world if we can compartmentalize some of the confusion around us. Fitting people and ideas into neat boxes helps keep things in order. But those darn artists keep wriggling out of their boxes and making their art into new shapes that don’t always fit! It can leads to sighs of exasperation but also new ideas and exciting visuals that titillate our brains.
Next time your local artist shows you yet another new experimental piece, keep your sigh under wraps and look carefully- you may be looking at the cutting edge of the next great art discovery.

"Meandering Thoughts", 33 x 24" oil painting on hardboard by Joanne Shellan