There was a period in my life when Alanon meetings were a weekly , sometimes daily event. So often I found myself drowning in emotional torment and I literally , often blindly, grabbed on to whatever advice was offered . But over time I had to recognize that though the advice offered may be well intentioned it may not be approptiate for me.
My backstory, my desires and my needs were often at odds to what was being offered . At one point my sponsor tried to instill in me the ability to take what worked and leave the rest behind . If only it were that easy .
Such as it is with critique groups I’m beginning to feel. This morning I had the first critique of my work since PAFA. I was determined to not be cowed by the experience at the Academy and when presented with an opportunity to join a critique group with the Los Angeles Art Association I leapt at the chance. And overall l believe it was a positive experience .
There were the observations of apparent flaws in perspective , anatomy , light and space , criticisms I had heard in Philadelphia . But I feel I have been addressing them on my own terms. I do think being self taught, not being equipped with what seems to be very familiar jargon and aesthetic expectations leaves me at a disadvantage at times. But it also allows for work that I hope does not look like the work of others . In fact what seemed to be a prevailing sentiment was that my work possessed its own vocabulary ; if I accomplish nothing else before I shed this mortal coil, that will have made me proud.
There was so much talk of intentionality ( as there was in Philadelphia – that must be quite a buzz word amongst the schooled ) and with that reference one can infer a lack of intentionally on my part. That is so peculiar as my work is so far from random. There were concerns that my perspective was just not right, that perhaps my figures were just a bit off and the concern that somehow I just wasn’t comprehending these principles. I study these principles with fervor and work to my ability ( and then some ) but the Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins who I admire so very much once warned me of the stifling trap of such disciplines . His advice early on was to make my figures (and space) convincing but not to be ensnared by academic sense of rightness for the creative spark can so easily be extinguished . With that in mind I haven’t pursued realizable space but the in- between spaces, often dizzying and overwhelming. The world of my interior; my decisions made with intention to express what I so often find vague and fleeting.
There is a confession I may need to make concerning light and space and that is my own lack of depth perception . Recently it was discovered in an eye exam that I lacked a sense of it, having failed rather miserably the depth perception test. That came as a bit of relief because I have struggled with how my work is percieved by others and been puzzled by that reception . For work that seemed to me perfectly reasonable and recognizable ( certainly not academic realism but convincing) was deemed by some as lacking . I believe now I just might be seeing things differently and will continue to work from that vantage point .
I was thankful to the leader of our group for I felt that in spite of her initial hesitation to the work ( particularly the latest painting Seizing Sanctimonium ) she truly looked at the work and gave it it’s due ( and some very helpful advice ). The group as a whole was earnest in its attempt at offering advice in order to improve and I am sure over time I will refer back to their suggestions . I’m grateful to them for that . There was only one sarcastic remark and later when I spoke privately to the fellow he confessed that yes he had meant it as an insult . So one must take that and then let it go. Again , not easy , but what can you do. I don’t want skin so thick that my heart cannot beat freely .
My buddy, my comrade , Paul Torres supported my efforts with the enthusiasm I feel for his work. I may never have a large audience ,but I do have admirers and delighted Paul is one of them. Inmany ways my work is self indulgent for its first aim is to please me, that I guess is my intention. Now I need the confidence to express it.
I must go for a run, clear the mind and be ready to start anew. Be well