Representational art and expressiveness


I did lots of work with expressive way of art journaling, abstracts and pure colours combinations. Work that mainly depends on intuitive way of working without preparations referring to subject matter either without final picture in mind.  All that led me to further understanding and discovering how powerful tool art may become in our hands and minds at the same time. Purely expressive and therapeutic aspect is just a beautiful stream of exploration what we may find more challenging to discover in direct way. However recently thanks to return to the traditional form and medium which is pencil drawing I have found unexpectedly a new avenue of expression: using representational type of art for deeper exploration of human connection with the object and actually going beyond the object itself...

 When we draw or paint or in general create certain object referring to perceived reality the process becomes more goal orientated and structured than the purely intuition based expressive approach. First there are some boundaries referring to representational aspect- what does it look like or what it meant to look like? Then in the actual, physical aspect of creation we need to handle the medium with some degree of confidence and control to get close to our vision. Creating this way often brings few challenges but also may be used in more adventures way allowing for wider exploration of subject and the artist. From downsides  we definitely are more at risk of exposure to inner critic, failed self-expectations, creating for the outcome more than for self-expression and of course the whole arena of external judgement. All that sounds scary however  we still will try, try to create, improve and grow or sometimes we simply give up. I started my journey in a bit strange direction. Many people explore art first, some are professional artist and then may discover the side of therapeutic benefit it may bring.  In my case I started with a very expressive exploration of art through creation of art journals- they were just for creating from the soul, no expectations for final product of beauty. As times went by I created more and explored more. Those journals became an unexpected way of making my return  into art, trying new techniques without the pressure to come up with the admired piece of art. I learnt to create without expectation, play, breath freely the joy of painting, drawing and simply throwing my soul into the creative reality. Gradually that expression brought me closer to well known forms of art and mediums like painting and drawing- I managed to shrug off the fear of failure and started drawing-something I truly believed was never capable of. Aim for perfection was overtaken by desire for exploration. When drawing I closed the inner critic and comparing devil and started listening to the hunger of exploration. Yes still practicing but with wild heart- with never ending questions "what if I draw..." "let's try different way", "if it doesn't work there is another piece of paper to start again!".

 All that gave birth to new avenue of creative exploration. Merging the subject orientated creation with going beyond the subject. This is a tricky process to describe as it is kind of existing on the border of two opposites. Creating with some kind of final result but letting the process of making it be the exploration time. I have seen so far few ways that this kind of approach can ignite the creative spark and end up in truly fascinating process:

1. Allowing for free exploration of subject approach- how I am approaching the subject, what am I emphasising and what concealing? How is the subject connected to the artist and why? What way is the subject inspiring the artist? Is there a personal approach to that subject? Maybe the subject is just excuse for exploration of something else? For example some artists say they paint flowers but is not flowers they are truly interested in- is the colour, or when you paint the portraits- what are you truly after? The beauty, likeness or emotion? Are you catching something invisible? What is there really in the subject that keeps you going? Look into your thoughts and choices as the part of the artistic journey not just random element.

2. Allowing for the process of making to take control through the medium techniques experimentation-what ever medium you pick up it can be used to its limits. How that particular medium is connected with the subject? For example softness of pastel will in some degree express those aspects of the subject that can be understood through the haze, softness, blendable qualities of pastel. How each medium's qualities can express the subject in different way? Paint will express it different that the pencil and embracing that physical influence of medium is honouring the art expression more than just forcing it.

3. R-constructing the subject in a new way- how can the subject go beyond its established borders? Can we break mentally and visually the subject into pieces and then put it back again? What will happen as the result of deconstruction? Can we break free from a perfect vision?

4. Allowing for "emerge" situation- when we are not sure the way we approach the subject let's then take this moment as the opportunity rather than awkward insecurity. Learning to trust, wait and see what happens is the way of awaking artistic bravery. We may be painting a particular subject but how and what exactly it is going to look like is not decided beforehand but awaken in those emerging stages when we look at the process and let it guide us. Looking at the image and taking time to see what direction it can go visually is the art conversation rather than a dull monologue of the painter trying to impose the vision on the canvas. From those unknown situations full of potential we may create the best work of art ever.

5. Technique versus expressiveness balancing- to be able to carry mentioned above way of conversation with your art (when working with more representational approach), the way of hearing your artistic voice and use it creatively you need some degree of the balance between mastering technique and allowing for freedom of expression. It is truly balancing act when we cannot be limited by compliance with technique rules but at the same time we need to be confident enough with it to be able to go beyond it. As the saying goes "You need to know the rules to be able to break them!".


Wishing you many expressive explorations with your subject matter!


P.S Break the rules!


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