Saturday, January 30, 2016

267: Sanding Acrylic Paintings

A FEW blog entries back I mentioned that it was nearly impossible to sand acrylic. I wanted to sand heavily textured areas to create even more complex textural effects. I have since discovered that by using the right procedure acrylic paint can be sanded effectively.

My first mistake was to not let the acrylic dry long enough. Although acrylic can be dry to the touch in half an hour that doesn't mean it is cured. Curing is a loose term that means the paint is dry all the way through, even thick passages, and that the elastic quality of the film has diminished. Acrylic paint will always be more flexible that dried oils but acrylic paint that has not cured will have a noticeably elastic, rubbery quality.
Sanding reveals the white undercoat

Many factors make curing times variable like humidity, temperature, color of paint, brand, and thickness. In very dry climates it's possible to cure acrylic in two days. But to insure quality sandability I think it's best to wait three days (I live in Utah which is the driest state after Nevada). To determine if the paint is adequately cured press your thumbnail into a thick layer of paint. If it gives at all or allows the nail to easily leave a mark the paint is not cured. If a passage feels cool to the touch that means there is still water lurking in the surface below.

After three days the paint will have an overall tough, resilient quality and the surface is ready for sanding. For best results I use wet-or-dry 3M sanding pads (although I assume any wet-or-dry sandpaper will work). I wet the surface of the dry acrylic painting with a spray bottle with copious amounts of water. Once the water has soaked in a bit I begin sanding with the sanding pad (it's like a tough sponge that has been coated with an abrasive). If the paint is properly cured you will begin to see colored moisture begin to flow down the canvas as the grit is washed away. I spray lots of water and use a vinyl raingutter with capped ends to catch the excess water.

I've had unexpected success with this method and have achieved some great textural effects. Even super tough films, like Golden's Clear Tar Gel, can be effectively sanded if properly cured.

Let me know of you have any variations on this process.

Brad Teare –January 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

266: Review of James Gurney's "Fantasy in the Wild"

MY new year's resolutions include having more fun with art while exploring techniques outside my normal purview. A video that admirably fulfills both goals is James Gurney’s new video download Fantasy in the Wild (also available on DVD).

My first response was the video is fun to watch. Gurney is a master of what he does and it’s a joy to see him immersed in his unique creative process. Plus, he has a lot of fun with the production. His films never make me feel like I’m cooped up in a lecture hall. The video will be of extreme interest to artists studying concept illustration but I learned several tips I can apply to a wide range of my artistic projects.

The video presents two painting sessions–both revolve around painting a sci-fi scene out-of-doors. The first is a neighborhood scene where a Volkswagen is being mysteriously levitated. The painting is done in casein. Although I don’t typically paint in casein (I use it in the woodcut process) most ideas are applicable to any medium.

Gurney uses a brilliant method of laying down color and then restating his drawing by drawing over the dried paint in water-soluble colored pencils. This method inspired me to find a means to restate linear elements in my abstracts–possibly by making some kind of acrylic/chalk drawing tool or using large pastels and then fixing the strokes with acrylic spray. Another great idea was his viewing grid to transfer images in the field. Watching Gurney use models and a wide array of creative solutions was valuable inspiration to surmount whatever obstacles I might encounter either in the field or studio.

I was also inspired by Gurney’s devotion to getting it right by drawing dozens of sketches or repainting sections. I had to reconsider when I saw him repainting significant passages if I had the courage to do the same with my work (I tend to fuss with misbehaving areas usually making it worse. Lesson–solve it in a sketch and paint over it). The video shows Gurney patiently revising his work as often as necessary to achieve the desired effect.

The second painting session is of a robot creating havoc in a suburban landscape. Gurney’s technical abilities come into full swing as we see how he researches and refines the image. I resolved to follow his lead with my woodcuts–an endeavor that requires lots of planning–and a phase I too often shortchange.

Toward the end of the video Gurney explains his reason for his methods–he starts with the confidence that he’s got it right while retaining enough detachment so he can easily evolve toward a new idea. He regards the process as a series of playful near misses tempered by calm resolve to get it right.

I like the idea of playful near misses. That’s an idea I can use in the studio when a painting starts to go wrong and my mood takes a turn for the worse. For that tip, and others, this video earned a permanent place in my collection.

Brad Teare –January 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016

265: Why Paint With Acrylics?

Closeup showing Zinc White texture
SOME have asked if I'm abandoning oils in favor of acrylics. The answer is I continue to use both depending on what traits I need. Generally I use acrylics for my large abstracts and oils for my landscapes.

It may not be evident in the photos but my abstracts have passages of extremely thick paint. I tried such thickness with oils and found the paint dried with an excessive and aesthetically unpleasant crinkling–and in many cases the paint isn't even dry all the way through and won't be for years. By adding a variety of additives to acrylics I can get the paint as thick as I want–to the point of becoming sculptural.

One reality of oil paints is that, given enough time, all oil paintings crack. That is not true with acrylics. In thinner applications I can deal with future cracking because it will be decades if not centuries before any cracks appear.

Generally oil on canvas will crack in 100 years and oil on linen will crack in 150 years. Linen on a reinforced panel is the best option for oils. Oil paintings that use Zinc White, one of my favorite whites, are especially prone to cracking (read article here). If you look at the paintings of skies by the impressionists you will see patches of white riddled with cracks. If they had used Lead White, a white with a more robust paint film, there would be less cracking. The techniques of Maxfield Parrish if painted today could have been done in acrylics–which would have spared them from the cracking that tragically mar his work.

Acrylics will not crack under any circumstances so I can use a canvas substrate (which I like for its light weight), I can use the paint as thick as I want, and I can use Zinc White which I love for its temperature neutrality, semi-translucency, and creamy consistency. I can also add substances such as sand, chalk, and crushed plaster-of-paris to the thick paint to create exotic textures. In oils the paint film might not be strong enough nor able to be reinforced with layers of subsequent mediums.

So are there any drawbacks with acrylics? When I'm painting a landscape I prefer a longer drying time. I also prefer texture that will not diminish as it dries (acrylics tend to flatten as the water evaporates from the paint film). Unlike oils, acrylics can be sanded only with great difficulty. Abstract oils can be sanded to create amazing textures. If a flexible sandable medium could be added to acrylic paint it would be the perfect medium for abstracts.

These are highly personal observations. Let me know how you exploit the contrast of acrylics and oils.

Brad Teare –January 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

264: Paint is Still Just Paint

Closeup of a recent acrylic painting, Turn To Light, 48" x 36".
WHEN things go bad with a painting negative voices sound off in my head. When I’m painting with acrylics such voices usually repeat worn out phases such as “what do you expect using plastic paint”, or similar comments delivered with an internal, imaginary smirk. Such phrases can be traced to teachers or peers who claimed that acrylics don’t have the depth or, more elusively, the quality of oils.

Yesterday I heard such voices as a large acrylic painting started heading south. But my experience is that many of the so-called defects of acrylic arise from handling it as if using oils. I find there are no intrinsic defects with high quality acrylics. The defects are imaginary or arise from misunderstandings of why the paint is misbehaving.

High quality acrylics and oils are both just pigments mixed with a medium. In the case of oils it is usually linseed oil. In the case of acrylics the medium is acrylic polymer and water. If you take both mediums and let them dry on a sheet of glass you find little difference–except the linseed might be a little warmer and the acrylic will dry slightly thinner with a glass-like clearness. This demonstrates that the two mediums dry similarly. So why the controversy over the quality of acrylics?

The primary misconception is that acrylics dry muddy or flat. This flatness results from the quicker drying time of acrylics. The standard method of loading the brush in oils is to swipe the brush through piles of paint with the oils remaining wet throughout the painting session. Using this method with acrylic paint will result in less intermixed color since thin, stray acrylics tend to dry on the palette and not intermix. To foster vibrant color you need to allow shards of color to randomly intermix (even if this intermixture appears on a nearly microscopic level). Muddy color means little or no optical vibration within that color or color field.

The same amount of acrylics on the palette and identical methods of mixing the acrylics results in a less intermixed appearance. The shards of random color that oil painters get are essentially field effects that energize the paint. The fact these bits of color are harder to foster in acrylic should not be held against the pigment–especially when some painters are oblivious to the phenomenon. The solution is to use more paint on the palette (larger dollops dry slower), be sure to keep the central mixing area wet (usually with a mister), or use a brush loading system that guarantees broken color (see this blog entry).

Another complaint is that acrylics don’t have the depth of oils–meaning it doesn’t have the gloss or glow of oils. Oils have glow and gloss because as they dry the linseed oil comes to the surface as the heavier pigments sink. This gives a naturally occurring gloss of color. This layer of oil will also tend to be yellow (from the thicker layer of oil) giving the surface a mellow appearance. This glowing, mellow affect can be added to acrylics by adding a gloss surface after the painting dries or adding it to the paint beforehand. If you add a slight bit of Hansa Yellow to the glossy additive (like gloss varnish or Clear Tar Gel) you can achieve identical results.

Another complaint is that acrylics don’t have the body of oils. The reason is that acrylics contain water in the acrylic polymer. Water is a less viscous medium than linseed oil and gives less friction to your brush. The solution is to add a thickening medium to the acrylics such as molding paste. My favorite is Golden Colors’ Coarse Molding Paste. Adding pastes, which have additives like marble dust, will diminish the gloss so if you desire the glossy depth of oils be sure to add a little gloss medium (my favorite is Tar Gel).

Many artists exploit the qualities of acrylic to get matte finishes that have very little microscopic field effects. This is an entirely justified use of acrylics. But it is unfair to condemn acrylics just because they don’t behave like oils.

I’m like most artists–I ascribe a host of virtues to paint that probably don’t exist. For example, I think Golden Color’s acrylic Cobalt Blue has near magical properties. If a painting is failing I feel I just haven’t added enough Cobalt Blue. Although such obsessions can be charming and nearly everybody needs a lucky charm on occasion, such irrational ideas, when they turn negative, need to be exposed for what they are–irrational prejudices that harm unfettered exploration of paint.

Brad Teare –January 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

263: Ideas for the New Year

Desert Blossom, 9" x 9", woodcut
IN the coming year I want to shake up this blog by exploring new ideas. Chief among them will be painting with thinner paint. The time has come to discover how to apply paint as thinly as possible while retaining the effect of scintillating color. Don't worry–I'm not giving up painting in impasto–I just feel the need to give more variety to the painting surface by having both thick and thin paint.

I also hope to review more DVDs that use thinner painting methods. There should be more to select from in this genre so if you know of any excellent DVDs please let me know which you would like me to review.

I also hope to do more technical videos including painting oils on a smaller scale as well as a video or two about printing woodcuts (since I will be printing a few for my woodcut show in April 2016).

I'm also very excited to review Lilly Oil Paint, an Austrian brand that was inspired by painting in thick impasto as related by this blog. The owner of the company, Walter Haas, invited me to a LinkedIn group about thick paint. In the course of our communication I offered to review his paints and he sent me a set of beautiful pigments. The paints are specially formulated for impasto and seem very promising.

I have another abstract show slated for July/August. I intend to paint an entirely new body of work. I've been experimenting with making acrylic skins and other interesting techniques–so I will include the occasional acrylic abstract entry.

As always, if you have any suggestions I hope you will add a comment.

Wishing you the very best New Year.

Brad Teare –December 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

262: You Can't Until You Can

OVER the last year I've written an unprecedented amount of posts about artistic improvement. Recently I've been reflecting on the idea that artists have to develop excess ability and then relax into an optimal yet comfortable working stride.

One particularly memorable concept was the improvement cycle where an artist evolves through four stages finally arriving at conscious competence–having a realization of how you do what you do and doing it in a relaxed state. The alternative is thrashing your way forward clueless as to why things are working–or more likely–not working.

As I was reflecting on the various observations about improvement I recalled a phenomenon I experienced in my development that I've never stumbled across in books on the subject–where I struggled to master a technique only to finally give up–only to discover a short time later I possessed the hoped-for skills.

My first experience was in High School. I was struggling to draw with charcoal. All my charcoal attempts were dissatisfying. I finally gave up and pushed the supplies under my bed. A few months later I inadvertently tried charcoal again in art class and had an unexpected success–enjoying a proficiency I hadn't previously possessed.

Later I tried my hand at the animation business doing layouts for The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spiderman TV shows. It involved drawing layouts in a unique method unfamiliar to me and not intuitive at all. I struggled through four seasons trying my best but never really knowing what I was doing. A sense of inadequacy persisted.

Later, living in New York and illustrating a children's book, I realized I had absorbed the previously unmastered concepts and was drawing effortlessly from imagination.

Later during that same era I began painting book covers in acrylic after a frustrating period trying to master acrylics. The tipping point this time was attending the World Fantasy Convention in Boston and viewing book covers by fellow illustrators. In that case seeing the art crystallized my thinking and allowed me to begin painting book covers at a professional level.

In all three cases I cannot articulate the missing ingredient that, when embraced, allowed me to work at a higher level. All I can say is that I struggled and struggled–usually giving up in despair or disgust–only to discover later I had absorbed the necessary skills afterall.

In the case of animation layout it seemed as if I would never learn the required skills and I had truly given up trying to master the art. It was over a year after abandoning the attempt that I discovered I had mastered the concepts.

I have never mastered the art of plein air painting. I would say that I'm at the stage of conscious incompetence. With studio painting I'm somewhere between conscious incompetence and conscious competence (which is a great feeling–I feel more in control and the work shows it).

I wish I could give more advice on how to shorten this process, or how to eliminate some of the pain. All I know is that there is a lot of mystery in the artistic process. We can describe some of it. But mostly we observe, and hope, and wait.

Brad Teare –December 2015

Book Cover for Green Millennium, acrylic 24" x 16"

Thursday, December 24, 2015

261: Creating as Naturally as Breathing

“You must always work not just within, but below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle only five. In that way, the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery, and you create a feeling of strength in reserve. —Pablo Picasso”

THE creative process is a means of envisioning a new, unrealized world. It is a process independent and transcendent of language. It is a means of nourishing both the creator and those who view the creation. Yet this nutrition is not widely esteemed. Art continues to be a marginal occupation socially, culturally, and economically. Yet many persist in its making.

I've had the privilege to know many artists who have made a wide variety of fascinating art. Only a few would be considered financially successful exclusively from fine art. In view of the obstacles to artistic success why do we persist? Although we are not immune to the lure of fame and wealth all the artists I know, without fail, love what they do.

One reason artists are so profoundly in love with the day-to-day work of making art is the opportunity for self-transformation. Each work of art excavates and reveals our true identity–each painting is a step in self-transformation.

I recently read a blog post stating people don't buy what you make but rather buy why you make it. This smacked of the kind of manipulative marketing I consciously resist (see the TED video on the linked page). But why we do what we do, regardless of its usefulness in marketing, is a valid line of inquiry. And why do artists persist in doing what they do against great odds?

Our quest for transformation is a part of what we think is a good life– a life that embraces values we cherish. Not simply values we have fallen into or have been impressed into us by our culture–but values that expand what it means to be alive. This can often lead to a frustrating yearning for unattainable ideals. Such lack of practicality is what often earns our reputation as utopian daydreamers.

In addition to dreaming we have to sell our work in order to continue our artistic projects. Recently I concluded that I need to simplify my project. I need to work below my means, as suggested in the Picasso quote above, in order to insure that, paradoxically, the level I work at is my absolute best.

Working at an idealistic fever pitch is not sustainable. It depletes discipline and willpower. We must not let our ambition outstrip our abilities nor let flattery diminish the sincerity of our work. It takes humility to embrace our unique talents no matter how lowly we think they are.

By embracing our natural abilities and working below our means our work will have more ease, mastery, and above all, authenticity. We will attain a higher level of focus and relaxation and creating art will become, as Leonardo Da Vinci suggested, as natural as breathing.

Brad Teare –December 2015

Turn to Light, 60" x 48", acrylic on canvas, work in progress.

Monday, December 14, 2015

260: Types of Success

I RECEIVED an email the other day asking about the advisability of pursuing a career in art. In general if someone truly wants to be an artist no amount of discouragement can stop them. If they aren't committed to being artists no amount of education can help them. But between these two extremes are many options.

The most important idea to remember is that all successful artists invent their own career paths. A quick review of self-help books reveal such books are only useful if you have the right product to sell–this usually means real estate in a good economy, career counseling in a bad one, or ironically, a self-help book that resonates with the zeitgeist. You will never see a self-help book on how to be a successful artist because that path will be as unique as you are. Such a book could only tell you how others invented their artistic careers. Following their path can only teach you how to become them.

Many ask if they should pursue an art education. The answer depends on what kind of person you are. If you are highly motivated with a type-A personality perhaps you can move forward without a formal education. But regardless you need to acquire the necessary skills you will need to successfully navigate your chosen artistic journey. Remember that this journey will be long and will traverse many economic conditions. You most likely will have to adapt to many differing careers. A good rule of thumb is the less you are an A-type personality the more you can probably benefit from formal education–with the caveat that it is unwise for young artists to accrue debt. Avoid debt if possible. 

All the successful artists I know had a very intense education of some type, whether it was a formal education which they took very seriously, or a period of intense experimentation on their own, which they took equally seriously. The point being you must give yourself time to fully develop your artistic vision. The more dedicated to this early endeavor the more successful you will be in later phases of your career. If you do decide to attend a school remember that no one but you knows where you are going artistically, and even you may experience some surprises along the way.

If an instructor doesn't know your journey's end they won't know what advice to give on how to get there. Exercise compassion and skepticism if teachers are dogmatic in their opinions. You must simultaneously be humble enough to absorb their knowledge but confident enough to resist advice irrelevant to your artistic project.

If you don't have an A-type personality (and you need to be honest) and you know in your gut you may not have the drive to plow through all of the preparatory requirements you can still have an art career. There are many ways of having a satisfying creative career. One of the best overviews of creative options is outlined in the book Refuse to Choose. The book reviews various career strategies that apply to a variety of personality types. It is especially good for those who love a wide array of artistic genres. The book countermands a variety of myths–most seemingly contrived to make artists feel bad about themselves–that stymie many gifted and passionate artists. The book is too dense to review in detail here (read Amazon reviews for an overview) but suffice it to say it gives enough ideas I'm reasonably sure most can find a workable strategy regardless of economic or emotional requirements.

Equally important is to know what type of artistic success you want. In the book The Happiness Equation, author Neil Pasricha outlines three types of success–social, sales, and self success. Social success is getting the accolades you desire from peers and professional organisations. Sales success is monetary success. Self success is the personal satisfaction you derive from your career that is independent from all other types of success.

When I wrote and illustrated the graphic novel Cypher I naively felt it was going to be a commercial success and provide an ongoing revenue stream that would subsidize my painting career. And it was a success–it was accepted into the Spectrum annual and received accolades from peers including being anthologized in Heavy Metal magazine. But financially it was a failure because it never became popular within the very narrow window that publishers demand. Conversely it was a self success–I continue to be proud of it and still get fan mail from around the world.

The paradox is that it's probably impossible to get all three types of success from any one career strategy. Most careers will be a blend. Knowing what kind of success you want will help you discover which path you need to pursue. The different types of success explain the phenomenon of the financially successful artist who is denied respect by peers (being branded a sellout), or the artist who can't sell but is highly respected by peers, as well as the financially successful and respected artist who struggles with substance abuse or other addictions because he or she feels like a fraud (no self success).

In addition to inventing a unique style you also have to invent a unique path to success with that style. The more unique your style is–and therefore the more likely you are to succeed–the less others can advise you on how to invent your path to success.

Success in the arts is all rather confusing and much more complex than in any other field. Sometimes reading biographies are useful but two I recently read, Lucien Freud, Eyes Wide Open, and Picasso, Creator and Destroyer, could both be summed up as have a unique style in sync with your times and know Gertrude Stein or Peggy Guggenheim. Although such books are enjoyable to read and can spark ideas the bulk of the inspiration is applicable only to the respective artists.

I hope these ideas are helpful. If you have any others I hope you will leave a comment.

Brad Teare –December 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

259: Failure=Experimentation

AS I WAIT for my new studio to be completed I decided to reconfigure my old studio  for painting experimentation. I removed my couch and added a set of four fluorescent lights to create an area for painting abstracts on the floor. I have since made acrylic pours onto a plastic drop cloth. I created complex textures by adding a variety of thickeners to the acrylic pours. So far I have experimented with plaster of parischalk, and aluminum hydrate.

I initially worked on one basic composition but made multiple pours, peeling up the acrylic skins, and reapplying them to the main composition. In some cases I would crack brittle applications and reassemble them simultaneously soaking the application in acrylic binder to reinforce the integrity of the lamination. In between laminations I would glaze, sand, and scumble the underlying surface.

The process was lengthy but I slowly built up a rich patina of texture and color. Eventually I had a painting worthy of exhibition so decided to add a final coat of acrylic medium to increase the film integrity and give a uniform finish.

When the final coat of acrylic medium dried I discovered I had made a bad choice–the dried brush strokes created a conflicting pattern with the previous harmony of texture and color of the unvarnished surface.

After spending so much time creating the painting it was discouraging to destroy it with the final varnish. I decided it would have been better to coat the painting in a layer of Golden Clear Tar Gel that would have dried more like a layer of resin. But I wasn't positive that would have been the best solution. Just like with the acrylic varnish I wouldn't know for sure until I actually try it.

I decided it is better to adjust my thinking and allow everything to be an experient–one step toward a creative solution–than waste valuable energy berating myself for wasting time in so-called failure.

I may see if I can salvage the painting by applying a thinner coat of Clear Tar Gel, thereby softening the painting's busy brushstrokes in a layer of resin-like gel. But whether or not the painting is salvaged it will not be a failure–just another step forward in the creative process.

Brad Teare –December 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

258: An Alchemist in his Apothecary

"I spin a cocoon around myself; let others do the same. I leave it to time to show what will come of it–a brilliant butterfly or maggot." Caspar David Friedrich

I NEED to hibernate into the studio again–this time to evolve a purer form of self expression. Despite recently having turned 59 years old I still have too many voices in my head from old art professors and the ill-informed critique of so-called authorities. I realize that most of the stinging commentary was embraced due to my over-sensitivity–which is an even greater reason to scrape off the barnacles of past experience.

Here are the parameters of my new experimentation:

Craft must be left behind in favor of pure expression. The highest ideal is to attain a state of mind where great art becomes inevitable. Absolute calm must prevail. If I'm not calm I don't paint. Slow the process by making tranquility the highest priority. Reject speed of painting as a worthy goal. Take the time you need. When you get into a creative impasse slow the process even more. Embrace everything you love about painting and cast away everything you dislike. Don't make things difficult–opt for the easiest path forward. Abandon any inauthentic practise or convention. Reject all color labels–makeup names you love. Use color labels that are personal and useful. Use layers of surfaces to build rich texture. Make each surface rich in texture and color.

I will probably expand this list but for now it will suffice to get me headed in the right direction–toward pure expression devoid of past habits. I want to neither rebel nor conform to any artistic convention. Both reactions lead to inauthentic expression.

Wish me luck.

Brad Teare –November 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

257: Art and Introversion

EVERY once in awhile I read a book that clarifies my thinking with such astonishing force I shudder to think of my future in the absence of such information. I found Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe PhD to be such a book.

I've read other books on introversion, some highly touted, but this is the best and clearly defines the parallels between the creative and the introverted personality. Of special note was the chapter on Time Poverty (I love the term) which outlines why artists tend to be indifferent to schedules and the obsessive hyper-activity of American culture.

Modern society says that time is money–an expression that celebrates money, making money more important than time. The introvert mode of thinking first is not valued, because time engaged in thinking is not a tangible product. Current American culture is so addicted to frenetic motion that the productivity of introverts–crafting a thoughtful way forward–is completely disavowed. In Introvert Power the author writes that "for an introvert, ample time provides a cushion around activity—the mental space we need to reflect, to make meaning, to find inspiration. [If] there were lots of 'time between time,' introverts would thrive."

The author continues: "…excessive doing leaves the mind vacant, clueless, and increasingly dependent on, well, 'doing.' We sit down to think, we become anxious, we pop up again and get busy to restore the feeling that we’re going somewhere. We have no idea where, but at least we’re going there."
This painting was painted at a plein air festival where I was
 under extreme pressure to create salable paintings. During such
events introverts feel they have to behave like extroverts. Such
strategies rarely work. I will explain how introverts can succeed
under such foreign environments in a future blog.

The book explains how the futility of misspent activity drains the productivity of introverts. For extroverts activity might spur thinking and solutions might occasionally spring from the work. But for the rest of us that is rarely the case. Yet we live in a world almost entirely designed for the proper functioning of extroverts.

The author suggests that the creative process from the introvert perspective is more akin to desire with birth as metaphor, rather than death-like terms such as deadline, and killing time.  The author says, "The paradox is, when we use the desire model instead of the death model, everything is easier. Desire, when properly nourished, works like pregnancy and birth: once it gets going, there’s no stopping it. But birthing requires the capacity to hold, to tolerate the growing pressure of what’s inside and to patiently wait until it’s ready. This holding capacity is the hallmark of introversion."

I recently read the biography of Lucien Freud (Lucien Freud: Eyes Wide Open) and was surprised he painted only two to four paintings a year (although some of them were quite large). Freud toiled insistently, resisted the pressure from galleries to crank out best sellers, thereby slowly building a completely unique body of work. The biography clearly demonstrates that Freud was an extreme case of introversion.

Reading the two books in close succession proved the necessity to slow my creative pace until it matches inner  rhythms–without reference to outward demands of galleries or painting events.

I know that is where the best work will emerge.

Brad Teare –November 2015


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