This morning I wanted to get back into the studio and create. It's always a hard to start making something. My materials are laid out, paper is ready, brushes laid out. The only problem is to get the courage to begin to make the first mark. It's a not an unusual problem. I get nervous everytime I get back to making new work after an extended period of rest. In this case it's been a couple of months.
I have recently moved house and I've been setting up the work space to accommodate my painting area and printing area for monotypes. I also had to find a space for all my works from the past 22 years. It hasn't been an easy task. I even added carpet on the floor. All this to make the space function as I'd like.
For years the routine has been to slowly start tidying up the studio. Rearrange things, clean the brushes and the palette. This is what I do before starting to work after a long break. But always thinking of what I should paint or create. What will I paint ?
Should I continue to immediately pickup from where I left off ? Or should I experiment with something new ? If it's something new, what subject should it be ? Should i pick a theme ?
Then there's the problem of trying to think about what I was trying to achieve previously with all the baggage of feeling lost about what all the work was about. A kind of momentum was lost and I'm not sure it can be reclaimed. Can I just continue as if I never took a break ?
My answer after days of searching for courage and scouring for ideas or inspiration is simply no. I cannot just continue as if I never took a break. I feel as if I need to start from scratch. I'm searching for the subject whilst producing the first few works. Something is different whenever this time comes. I feel differently about the work somehow. As if Im discovering something new in it. I know it will all end up looking similar to previous work, but each time something new is in focus. It could be the figure, or the tree or a landscape. It might be an emphasising the sky or clouds or a major push to have a figure morph into an animal.
It's a new day, different month and life is in full swing. I know as long as I can manage to make the first mark, then the creative machine can start to find its due gear. But what about subject ? What will it be this time round ? Same as always I suppose with certainty in hindsight. Some sort of tree morphing into some beast, some birds perhaps and a hint of garden-like motif. Flowers, parts of bodies, parts of faces or heads, eyes, mouths ( happy or sad), butterfly-like insects and some skies with turbulent clouds. I guess it's all repeating itself year in, year out.
So once work begins in full swing, for me it's a play on whatever the first mark is. The first mark determines the subject as I begin to lay down pigment in a Zen way. Loose strokes, very fast and without hesitation. The first few works are often only for ironing out a stiff hand. All usually flows after that. A frenzy of images in different techniques - monotypes, mono prints, trace mono prints, ink on roller, ink on plastic film, wax crayon doodling, ripped paper under inked roller and so on.
So what's changed this time ? Scale. Small scale or large scale ? The process is the same every time.
Writing this down makes me wonder if the dilemma of subject is really a dilemma of courage to make the first mark. I guess my subject matter is somehow coded or embedded in my psyche. There's not much I can really do about it as I usually create entirely from my mind. Visual references are rare and I use them sporadically. I glance at a picture and have no patience to recreate them. I tire easily if I know the final result. It's not challenging in the accidental way of working, almost destroying a work with a bold stray stroke or fallen blob of ink and resolving to work with it to achieve something born out of necessity.
My approach is manic, totally exhilarating and I'm usually very vague for hours after a furious session. Images are brewing and I'm hoping that a series will be on the way soon. The dilemma of subject matter doesn't matter at all now. The subject is probably just me. Images created by smudges, accident blobs, and meaningful lines are coming, and apparitions will be recorded on paper and I'm waiting to catch them like fleeting thoughts.
Artist living and working in Melbourne, Australia. Paintings, works on paper. Mostly creates monotypes and monoprints