From the Dark Night into the Light
I had the opportunity to revisit a blog when it was published in Fine Art Views. (Dark Night of the Artistic Soul, February 10, 2012.) It was written two years ago this month, in February 2010. At that time, I had been working in watercolor approximately six months, and that is almost all the experience I had with the medium.
I obtained my BFA in 1983. That summer I found myself pregnant and got married. I went on to have several more children, go through a divorce and had no time to paint. During those 26 years, I would often remark that I had the "soul of a watercolorist" in a rather grandiose way like I knew anything about the medium, or myself as an artist much less that I would ever actually find this to be my truth. I think I always intended to paint again, but no one was more surprised I was when I did finally begin again, and in watercolor no less.
I never really thought I had a voice or that I knew what to say, artistically speaking. This is part of what kept me away quite so long. In college I had painted flowers, I think because they are so colorful and I am in love with color. After a time, I came to see them as the only subject I could paint. While my training was more structured and traditional than many programs today, it was not exactly what you would call classical and I felt rather inadequate to try other subject matter. I honestly felt like a one-trick pony doing my one trick and not very well. I'd be embarrassed to share all of my emotional wrangling during that time, accompanied by threats to quit painting again, and this time, FOR GOOD.
In summer of 2010, something broke loose for me. I painted my first dog (Princess Bully) and I thoroughly enjoyed the work. It was at about that time than I came to my theory of painting. That is, you can only paint three things: Color, shape and value...or the colors of the shapes of the value. Under this premise, subject is not the issue because all subjects are approached the same way. Bingo! The dark night became light.
In 2010, I asked if I were prostituting my talents. Today, I'd say no because I don't view that I have any talent at all. Rather, I have training behind me and I work very hard to learn and grow as an artist. If I am prostituting at all (and I am) it is the skills of my day job. I feel like I am selling little a piece of myself to keep a roof over my head instead of celebrating the most important aspect of my life: My art.
All this said, I spend very little time with the Dark Night of my artistic soul and a great deal of time in the Light. Because I keep a chronological diary of my work on my Facebook fan page, I can go back and see all sorts of progressions artistically, not the least of which is the fact that I paint the Light I feel into the work I do.