One artist's journey: Trying to live a creative life with grace, grit, gratitude...and a border collie.
(or perhaps I should say: greys, grit and gratitude)

29 May 2013

Drawing on Karma

by Lyn StClair

The first piece pictured here is the latest in a new series of works exploring an entirely different (and experimental) medium.

While I was absolutely captivated by Karma's amazing use of her personal airspace...to me, this piece (titled "Touch the Sky") is more than just a drawing of a horse.  It is about reaching for the stars and being willing to leave the security of the ground.

As artists we HAVE to try to go where the muse sends us.  That is how we grow...and, hopefully, what makes "art".  When we choose to spread our wings and reach for something new, it can be like stepping into the void.  This new series of "paintings" (sparked by one I did of Karma this past Winter) is a long leap from the work that I have become "known" for.  That alone is scary...wondering how they will be received...and if they will sell...

The first show where I showed these pieces helped a little...an "Award of Excellence" for the first one of Karma and a great response, even a couple of sales.  Then a rejection from a museum show for another.  Neither awards nor rejection mean anything in the long run, though...what matters is the originality you strive for and the soul that goes into your work.

Exploring a new direction is more than trying a new "style":  it is about finding your voice all over again in a completely different key.  It is about re-inventing yourself.  These new "paintings" (I am still not quite sure what to call them) have swung from fairly representational...to wildly loose and contemporary.  Each one brings its own set of challenges to the table as I not only experiment with design...but with surface and media in a way that has not been done (to my knowledge).

Once again, I have fallen in love with black and white...with contrast and line and negative space and value.  Subject-wise, I have tried some of the usual "charismatic megafauna"...in part because they are subjects I love...in part because I want to worry less about "subject" and more about style, comopsition, design, etc.  Again and again, I come back to Karma, though.

It is hard NOT to be inspired by Karma (Karmelita).  She is big, gorgeous and has a personality that, in itself, is a work of art.  She is grey...like a charcoal come to life.  She plays like no other horse I know...she seems to be as much a part of the air as the earth sometimes.  In a way, she is the personification (horsification?) of what I am trying to do with my work.  Not to mention...she is fun to watch AND draw...and there lies another factor in making art...it should be fun.

In my opinion...artists themselves are a work in progress.  We should be constantly trying to explore, to experiment, to raise that bar ever higher.  Along the way there will be some wonderful highs, some brutal crashes and some seemingly endless plateaus.  But if you constantly push yourself and your work beyond what you are comfortable with...you cannot help but become a better artist.

There is no getting "there" in the life of an artist...there is always a better way to try, a different way to express, a new thing to explore.  As with anything, it is easy to get stuck in a rut (especially if the "rut" means sales).  For me, it is vital to create for the sake of art, not just the market.  When I catch myself feeling restless or "working" too hard on stuff that is "easy" to sell...I know it is time to try a new direction.

That period of transition is always scary...and yet also exhilarating.  There are few things harder than feeling yourself not growing in your work...and few things as delicious as finding joy in your work once again.

When you can hardly sleep after finishing a piece because you cannot stop thinking about the next one...you might be on to something,