The artist this year is ZZ Wei and he and his wife, Lin, who does all his interpreting for him, spent an hour entertaining about 150 of us with stories about his youth and telling tid-bits that help us see into the workings of a great artist’s mind. His show is absolutely stunning. His mostly large works in oil are full of strong shapes in colors that glow and compositions so good, they simply pull you into their world.
I tried hard to stay as present as possible during the talk but knowing that I’m going to be up at that podium next year was turning my stomach all flip-floppy. My head was filled on the long drive home thinking about all would be expected of me in the next year as I prepare for my show next year at the Governor’s Mansion. I’m going down the list; the paintings need to be great, they should be large too, I need stay focused on paintings of local scenes, I’ll need to get some press, maybe try to get a magazine article about it and I really want to use the weight of this show to get into better galleries….WAIT A MINUTE! The longer the list gets, the more pressure I feel and the more pressure I feel, the tighter the door clamps shut on my creative juices. The creative juices about how to market the show do fine under pressure- but it must be a completely different section of my brain that decide what and how to paint. It’s the “heart” or intuitive brain section that absolutely cannot deal with this kind of pressure.
So how to keep the painting part of the brain open to the world? For me, it means NOT thinking about it too much, shutting off logic and turning on tuning-in, keeping it playful, looking deep inside at what I want to paint—not what I should be painting and staying in touch with my emotional side. Making each painting a personal message about my emotional reaction to a scene is what I do best and I need to keep that first and foremost in my mind.
To keep painter’s block far, far away, use the heart more and the brain less.
Maybe I should get that tattooed on my forehead or something!
The painting featured in this blogspot was inspired by a walk last week through Mercer Slough in downtown Bellevue. What a gem of a park! It’s 16x20” oil on board, unnamed yet, and will retail for $550. www.joanneshellan.com for more of my work, resume, bio, list of gallery representatiion and show schedule