Thoughts on the Artistic Process

by Julia Rymer

I’m battling my way through my work, preparing for an upcoming show, but also, as always, simply doing the work: creating, destroying, pondering, playing in the studio. Marking up canvases and instantly regretting the marks, or sometimes– not often– loving what I have made, and getting attached, wanting to keep it. Then destroying it and remaking it, again and again, until I feel like it is at a place balance and completion.

The artistic process feels like a battle to me. It is one I am willing to fight, but nonetheless it remains a battle.

Painting also often feels like chasing a wild animal, only the wild animal is my Self. I’m also doing a lot of inner work right now, rethinking my approach to language and my use of my voice as a person. Art has always been a means for me to have a voice, and to give all those emotions and experiences a place to exist and breathe. To feel real, and valid– in a sense, to give them solidity and form.

Some days in the studio I win the battle, and I feel a sense of accomplishment and completion. This feeling always fades, for the primal urge to create– to “art” as a verb, as my father likes to say– resurfaces, and I am back in that space, again, alone against the canvas. James Baldwin says that the artist must actively cultivate aloneness, so that we may “conquer the great wilderness of [the self].”

“The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate the darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”  (James Baldwin, The Creative Process.)

To make the world a more human dwelling place. I can think of no better description of the purpose of art in this dark world. It puts into context the need for art, of all its forms and manifestations, whether dance or painting or song. We are making the world more human. And that is, indeed, a battle. This is not a world that wants more humanity. It is a world that wants and cultivates and craves more inhumanity, in all its forms, from robots making everything from hamburgers to cars, to the cruelty of separating a parent and a child as they cross a border, to the destruction of our very planet.

I carry on this work, this mission, this battle. Whether in oil or acrylic, what is in these paintings is my soul, my humanity– and I am not being overly dramatic. We are here to say something, artists. Say it.


Buy some art. Hang on your wall. Enjoy.

Illuminate Recently I was approached by the startup Artify It about offering limited edition prints of two of my original works on paper. I am pleased to say they are now available for a short time (one week to be exact)!

I am not going to bore you with the fact that limited edition prints are a wonderful way to start collecting art affordably (they are). But if you were to look at buying art because it is affordable, why not just buy it at a Big Box Store? Then you can get all the "paintings" you need, on sale and in the designer colors that will exactly match your couch!

Instead, I prefer to think of buying my work through Artify It as more about buying something special and adding uniqueness to the space you frequent. Or perhaps you know an art-lover that will get a total kick out of the work too, so you buy them a gift. What a nice way for someone to "live with beauty"!

In any case, if you are interested, click the photos and they will take you to the website for purchasing. I hope you enjoy!

 

BloodEarth

The Artist You Are

There are times when the artist that you are and the artist that you want to be cannot be reconciled. This is a fight between desire and reality. You fight and fight to be a certain type of artist, but nothing works- it doesn't fit. You want to make bigger work, smaller work, more colorful work, less colorful work, paintings, sculpture, prints, or just installation. Conceptual work, or formal work. You think, "I'll just do this type of art, or use this type of approach, and the world will get me." So, there you are, trying and trying and trying, getting nowhere. No one is responding- not even you.

With Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours of genius-hood getting farther and farther away, you consider giving up.

The question you are really trying to answer is who YOU are as an artist. Not your famous professor, best friend from art school, or that guy who randomly picked up a paintbrush one day and now sells paintings for $20,000 a pop. Not the girlfriend who paints in her spare time while her baby sleeps, or the friends whose art involves tagging the neighborhood.

No, the question is: who are YOU as an artist?

Not who do you WANT to be— but who are you right now as an artist? In this space, this place, with this work? And can you value yourself and what you do? Can you grant it legitimacy? Can you be enough?

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