While not specific to visual art, Johannes Brahms' quote invites us to examine the time frame we impose on making art versus allowing incubation. While he probably didn't have as many distractions as we do today, the concept of leaving an idea or a beginning alone, is worth examining. In my view, the first few notes of a song or a painting are often filled with promise. Have you had the experience of pushing through a good beginning? What about this notion of letting an idea sit until you "know what to do". It's a practice worth cultivating. Put the idea away, and let it percolate. Until it beckons you.
Still life paintings from 2010, 2016, 2017
I hear this a lot. It's not the comment itself that I struggle with as much as the pregnant pause and the self-judgement that follow. I think to myself...for better, or for worse? It's similar to other personal, open-ended questions like: Did you get a haircut? or Have you lost weight? It's hard not to explain yourself or to get caught up in a negative thought pattern. Question is: how do I respond to commentary about my work (good, bad, or indifferent)? I used to offer an explanation of why my work has shifted so much. Almost in my defense. After repeatedly hearing myself banter on about it, I realized I don't have to respond. I can choose to take in comments and remain neutral. With the understanding that it's all as it is. So, saying nothing wins. My, I have changed!
Recently, my life has been filled with a lot of distractions. It happens. Family needs, bad weather, this meeting, that obligation. I try to maintain firm boundaries around my studio practice. When I don't, my work suffers, and I suffer. Believe me, there are days when I invite distraction, but in general, studio time is not negotiable. When I feel distracted, I allow myself to experiment. Often I begin by mixing paint. Creating colors I love. I add other materials whose color, texture or shapes interest me. Then I begin to build. No expectations. Here's a shot of what distraction looks like at the end of the day.