charlie had us write reflective answers about our show. it was pretty cathartic, so have a read if you dare.
What have you learned from producing this body of work?
The past few months I did nothing but live and breath painting. I was in the studio every chance I got and when I wasn’t, I actually felt guilty that I wasn’t painting. I put aside friends, family, activities, and events, to be the last one in that lonely studio every night. However, I’m not sure if I was painting for the sake of painting or because I was in love with it. Rather towards the end, I started to feel like a factory worker. I began to question myself a lot and asked why I started painting in the first place and why was I painting now? The reason for some of this could’ve been the time crunch and the goal to have new paintings in my show. I didn’t have to do that, but I felt like I needed to build my portfolio and stop relying on my old work. One day after little sleep and when my painting was going to hell, it was stated that my super-ego was a bastard. And while it was a humorous statement, I realized how much maybe that was crippling me. This recent process of painting showed me that being overly judgmental and hard on myself was making me dislike painting and my work in general. Producing this body of work also showed me what my limits were. I realized what I could do in three months and what I should’ve probably given more consideration during the previous semester. It showed me that I can push myself, but the extremes of no sleep and not taking care of myself physically/mentally in the long run hurt rather than helped. I also learned that I should consider what is important in the painting. Should it be the background and the objects, or should it be the figure? I believe this new work sparked this question and hopefully with my next body of work some answers will emerge.
What have you learned from exhibiting this body of work?
Showing in a gallery, I feel, was the crème de la crème of my higher educational experience at Stout. I’ve seen a lot of seniors come and go, some good work and some bad in that gallery and always wondered what it would be like to have my artwork on the walls. Seeing my work in a professional space, an actual series instead of just one piece, it was surreal. It felt like I had finally reached a climax of my education and the hard work was worth it. As far as the body of work I showed, I have mixed feelings. I’m really proud that I got 4 new paintings done for a show. I’m happy that they were on display and that I was vulnerable to criticism and dislike from my colleagues. I’m happy I showed a body of work that was personal, but had meaning that the viewer could relate to. I would probably say that displaying my artwork if anything showed me my strengths and weaknesses in painting. In addition, by exhibiting my work I also saw how old/new paintings stood next to each other and how I have changed in just the past year with my technique.
What new goals do you have for your studio work?
My goals now would be to produce work with a drive that I had before my show. Being in the studio, completely absorbed in the process was utterly exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. I think I need to find a new way to stop seeing painting or the studio as a chore or a lonely place…how I’ll do this I’m not sure. But I know my habits and routine will have to change once I graduate and I am on my own.
I hope to be more experimental, not afraid to ruin my paintings, I want to go back to the root of why I started painting and experiencing that freedom which I feel like I have been missing this whole year. I’m excited to not have expectations on my work or criticism (I suppose I’ll miss that…maybe) and not have limitations that I feel viewers at Stout and I myself have put on my art. I’m just ready to paint, get messy and make anything and everything.
How will this experience help you as a future artist?
I’ve never really been one for wanting to things to end, I’m always sad when they do. But putting my artwork up, hearing people’s thoughts and taking it down was probably the best closure I have ever experienced. It’s hard to get over, because it seemed too short for all the time and preparation that was put into the show. But it also gave me a newfound energy for wanting to have my work displayed in galleries. These past couple of years I have seen myself as a student rather than an artist. But showing with two other fantastic painters and seeing my work against those lovely white walls, felt like I had matured into an artist. This experience also gave me confidence in being a fine artist. The past few years I have heard, “Studio, painting, what are you going to do with that?” I have allowed other people’s negative perceptions seep into my own thoughts and have become discouraged in the process. But after our show, I realized there is room out there in the world for a fine artist like myself. It may not be easy, but I feel more determined than I did before.