Constancy and Choice – The Tools an Artist Needs Most

In my last post, I wrote about a change in the artistic weather for me as I left behind my Colors of Jazz collection and headed down an entirely new track.  Oh, how we kid ourselves.

After finishing the first two paintings (posted here earlier), I believed I was headed down the wrong new track and gave this a lot of thought.  I longed for the colors of not just jazz, but of my working palette.  I talked to myself at some length about this and even accused myself of being weak or afraid for not embracing the new.

I’ve long been a risktaker, so it surprised me to hear this inner dialogue, and somewhere deep inside I knew risktaking and fear were not the issues.  Colors were the issue.  My colors.  My palette.  My strength, whatever it might be, as an artist.

Then I read a passage from one of my two companion books on this journey, Bayles & Orland’s Art and Fear, and knew I was home. I knew I was a few steps farther in knowing who I am as an artist and, more, knowing what I do. 

My voice.

These two passages from the last pages of the book gave me what I needed:

On Constancy: “It shows in the way most artists return to the same two or three stories again and again. It shows in the palette of Van Gogh, the characters of Hemingway, the orchestration of your favorite composer. We tell the stories we have to tell, stories of the things that draw us in–and why should any of us have more than a handful of those? The only work really worth doing–the only work you can do convincingly–is the work that focuses on the things you care about. To not focus on those issues is to deny the constants in your life.”

On Choices: “In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot –and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.”

So I’m including here, the third painting in this uncertain new “Say Wha?” series.  I’ve gone back to the palette I know and love, experimented a little to keep the story fresh, but happy with the constants in my work. That much I can guarantee.

Go Very Be Carefully
©2018, Molly Larson Cook
20 x 24, Acrylic


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