Category Archives: process

Good advice

Here’s some wisdom from artist Chuck Close:

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.

Close was successful in the contemporary art world by the 1970’s, painting huge portraits in a photo-realistic style.¬†In 1988, he suffered the sudden rupture of a spinal artery, which left him confined to a wheelchair, partially paralyzed with limited use of his limbs.¬†Despite this, he continued to paint with a brush taped to his wrist. He went on painting enormous portraits, but in a more abstract style. An interesting fact: Close suffers from a condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness, an impairment in the ability to recognize or differentiate between human faces. Close has said that he feels his portraits are a way to help him recognize the important people in his life.

Big Self-portrait, 1967-1968

Self-portrait, 2004-2005

Chuck Close at work

 

I messed up

garbage

By far the three most repeated words in art therapy sessions with kids: I messed up! And fast, before I have time to intervene, into the trash can goes the messed up, crumpled up paper, often with just one or two little marks on it. Sometimes it’s very difficult to convince kids that making art is not about a perfect product, but about the process, and that their mess-ups are just steps in that process. That embracing the mess-ups is, in fact, metaphorically accepting all parts of oneself, ugly and beautiful.

But try telling that to a kid who has a picture in his head of how something is supposed to look. And who is so afraid of being a failure that exploration and play feel impossible. And who feels so bad inside that facing those feelings in the form of ugly art is painful.

So I always try to demonstrate that nothing’s really garbage.

  • Let’s make really ugly drawings! Keep going, make it worse. That’s not ugly enough.
  • Let’s rip out the parts of the picture we like and make a collage out of them.
  • Let’s try making sculptures out of the papers you threw in the trash can!
  • Etc.

Presenting: four little paper sculptures from the trash can.

tassel messuptoilet paper nmessup

 

box messupleoaprd messup