Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

This morning's 'over a cup of coffee' musing is somewhat of a continuation of my last blog post.  It's a New Year, a good time to reassess our lives.  I am avoiding the disappointment that resolutions inevitably bring, but I am trying to keep in the spirit of the season and am internally reviewing how the past year has felt to me.  In light of that...

Sometimes I feel like I want to rock, or even sink, the boat, with my art. You know, make some capital 'A' ... Art!  There are times when I wish it was that powerful, that it would stand up and shout annoyingly loud to be seen, to say something grating.  I don't mean in an 'artistically mastered aptitude' kind of way, but in it's raw expressive power.  To make the Art something aside from how or who I seem to be, in a public way, to others who know me.  Like the quiet, scholarly kid in school, who shows up at the talent show and kicks ass on a '68 Stratocaster ala Hendrix, and does it left handed!  To really dig deeper into the 'self' than has been done before.

Other times, I just want to find quiet, and the internal solace that making art brings to my life, and never let a painting be seen again.  To paint for my own personal expressive needs without the need to share it.

I know we don't find our voice, it finds us.  We will do what we do, no matter how hard we try not to... so all of this is moot really.  Yet I spend a lot of time wondering about this.

When standing at the easel, no matter how rebellious I might feel at that moment or on that day, no matter how much I might feel like painting something that is explosive, challenging and controversial; feel like painting something that would make my Mom call me up and ask if I'm 'OK?', I inevitably return to the peaceful kingdom side of painting.  In the end, I make 'pretty' paintings.  I am grateful that it is appreciated by viewers of it, and especially by the collectors who spend their hard earned money on it.  But I feel restless about it.

It makes me wonder what the potential in me is, or if there is, and if I have the nerve to expose it?

But, I am curious?  Are others just happy as larks doing what they've always done?  Or do you find yourself torn at times as to what painting should be saying about you?  Or finding a new voice?  Is that ever something that keeps you up at night, wondering if what you're painting is what you should be painting?  If you're one of us, and you solved it for yourself, how did you get there?

The two paintings below aren't put up here as an examples of what I'm talking about above.  I'm showing them as an example of something I did at another time, when I was thinking about this same subject.  The two paintings were painted in 2009 and weren't anything like I'd ever done before.  I painted with an empty head, with out any forethought.  I turned up the stereo and threw, smashed, scraped, and applied paint with my hands or anything else I could find at the time... exploring how the music that was playing... made me feel.  I tried to let that feeling come out of me during the painting session.  To let my emotional response to the music show in how the paint ended up looking on the canvas.

It was one hell of an exhilarating experience.  I did these two, one after the other, and could hardly believe how out of breath I was, and how 'high' I felt, tuned in to the music unlike any experience I had ever had.  I used up a lot of old, cheap paint I had laying around in boxes.  It was FUN!!! ( I even used my Francais signature... MARC )

Painted to some Lynrd Skynrd in 2009... "Skynrd" - oil - 24x30

Painted to listening to Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue'... in 2009... "Jazz" - oil - 20x30

19 comments:

Susan Neese said...

I can really relate to what you are feeling.....And have also asked myself the same questions....

Because of recent changes in my life, (the loss of my husband of 44 years)I too question "Where are my life and art going from here??" The pretty little paintings I have been doing, just don't do it for me anymore. I've kind of moved back to where I began many decades ago.....to portraits and figures. I feel more of a connection to them.
As you described your wonderful abstract painting experience.....I could tell you were being so much more spontaneous. Not thinking so much. I believe that is a lot of my problem. I think, or left brain it too much....Painting plein air has really helped me improve that way. I haven't that much time to think about it.
Good luck with your journey......I, like many of your followers, love what you do.....and although some may be very serene.....they still "Rock!" Friend in art, Susan

Paul Nutting said...

Thanks a million for this and the last blog. It is very interesting and inspiring to understand your search for something more. I very much like and appreciate your art and look forward to what you might do in 2015. Please keep sharing your thinking process.

René PleinAir said...

Guess in some way it's Always turn out that you're in a sense paint yourself, ... a reflection in who you really are at that moment but in general the person, ... shouting with hard edges and bright colours or telling worth wild things with compassioned softness and awesome colouruses. I also think it's a reflection on how people react on that, ... painting "pretty" paintings is much more a personal thing which get's the reactions from your audience as well being personal, ... as for the more absrtact work it also would give an reaction from the audience a personal and an artistic one aswell which isn't the same as with the "pretty" pictures. In the end you're going to choose where you feel more comfortable with which is still a reflection of yourself painted on canvas, .... mu experience about this matter. Great post Marc, I wish you a great search this year in good health and happiness.

Barbara Benedetti Newton said...

I am so pleased to read your comments about pretty paintings. Once a decade I have the pretty-painting-attack. Part of it is about being bored with a subject or medium. This year I will take another leap into a medium I have avoided. It will be a challenge and though I may make pretty pictures part of the time in my known mediums, it is challenges and unknowns that keep me interested in making art. Hooray for you for having those feelings and for admitting them to those of us who find your work amazing!

Sharon Lynn Williams said...

Hi Marc: I totally get where you are coming from. I too paintin 'pretty pictures' preferably done en plein air. I feel that those ones do answer some of the angst as they are pure reaction to the environment and therefore are truly thrilling, especially when they turn out wonderfully! I also dabble in collage, mixed media and encaustic in the cold winter months, just to satisfy that inner creative person. These things have kept me 'sane'. but I often still wonder. But often that is the result of comparing myself with other artists I admire-always a recipie for disaster!! You are right, you are who you are, your work is loved by very many painters and non-painters, so learn I think learning to be happy with that, or at least content, will bring you peace.

Laura Frykman said...

I think I understand the conflict you feel when you have many galleries expecting work from you, and you know how to create reliably gorgeous paintings. That is a huge achievement! An artist needs to feel good about what s/he is doing, to do it with skillful consistency. And of course, financial stability is good! But we also need to grow, and honor the aesthetic questions that get us curious about new methods, and tempt us to say new things in paint. It's a deeply personal question how we spend our time, and whether trying any given new approach is useful, or a distraction from the work at hand. For myself, raised to conform to a society I had deep conflicts with, I took my time in my 20s to explore abstraction and expressive color in a nonprofessional capacity, getting to know all sides of myself as an artist. I knew I had a natural knack for realism, but needed to integrate my emotions into a true, personal creative practice that would sustain my attention through the inevitable creative challenges. I pick my influences carefully so I always feel intentional about my painting.
Our approach to the world in paint will symbolize our spirit to some degree: the aesthetic question is, how fully do we need others to know us? Beauty is a universal, and a worthy subject for endless visual meditation. but it looks different depending on the source of our inspiration and the questions and attitude we bring to our creative practice. It should! Hendrix harmonies don't look like Brahms', and there is beauty in pain, but it will be expressed more clearly and powerfully when we adjust our methods to the message we're conveying. The medium IS the message, some say.
We all have more private sides we may chose to risk sharing when we feel comfortable doing so. Everyone benefits from this honesty when it's skillfully expressed, whether we are challenging conventions with serious concerns, or with playfulness. Personally, I try to be intentional about my focus for experimentation over time. I'm going to widen my range of colors, or textures, or create deeper space or master a new "vocabulary". I pick a challenge and let that structure keep me from trying every new whim I'd love to try.... Ultimately, making art simply organizes my feelings and perceptions, and brings me into balance, so anything that helps me spiritually, helps my art. If music moves me, it will only help me grow as a visual artist to respond to it in paint, and evolve. a gallery should be able and willing to back my efforts, or I'll find another one that does. I court my muse, not a style....

liz wiltzen said...

Hey Marc, I just love your last two posts. I’ve also been doing some inner investigation around my art for some time now - isn’t it so cool when you get to the place as an artist where you start taking your questions to an even deeper level?

After hitting the wall - where painting commercially (and in an expected way) no longer felt alive for me, I stepped away. Had no idea it was going to last for almost 2 years, but it has been a rich and super interesting break. Recently events have unfolded that have asked me to step up my looking, to lean back in to the biggest question, which for me has been “Why? What is important to me about picking up a brush? Why does it matter?”

No clear answer yet but it is definitely not about acclaim or money. It has more to do with curiosity, exploration of what’s possible, and most importantly, “What do I want my relationship with painting to be about, and what impact would I like it to have on others?”

A couple of weeks ago, it came through clearly that mostly, what feels right now is intimacy, and a wise friend pointed out to me that in order to have intimacy you have to fully lay yourself out there to be seen. I’m playing with the paradox and fascinated to see where it takes me.

And I'm curiously watching to see where your remarkable sensitivity as an artist leads you next!

Sheri said...

Happy New Year it is finding your blog through "Making a Mark".
Looking forward to my subscription.
Your "Painting My Way Through Life" spoke volumes to me. Thank you for helping me express my own feelings more clearly. My motto has always been a "painting is like a diary that lasts a lifetime". Thank you.

Debora Stewart said...

I also enjoyed reading your post. It sounds to me that you are drawn again to exploring this abstract expressionist side of your nature. It is itching to come out of you. I worked realistically all of my life until about ten years ago. I wanted more but didn't know what it was. I also worked at a "day job" so I could afford to take the time to experiment and open up. I was always drawn to abstraction so began to experiment and one thing led to another and another. Then I went to an intuitive drawing workshop and all hell broke loose. I've only recently gone back to some "realistic" subject matter and the abstract has influenced all that I do now. I'm so glad that I dove in as it changed my life. If you do more it will influence your landscapes which are beautiful. Turn up the Skinard and rock!

Zainul Hal said...

Nice painting..
Happy New year

Anonymous said...

Maybe exploration and challenge go beyond the painting surface. Or maybe the cold November and snows of recent have brought cabin fever. I have recently enjoyed painting with a palette knife and some new music from the library. A walk on favorable days lets me observe and enjoy nature. The snowy days are good for seeing which animals have been around based on their tracks. Bobcats leave only 2 prints per step since they generally put the back foot in the same spot as the front foot. Thanks for starting your blog again. I enjoy your art and conversation.
Linda

Peter Russell said...

Fabulous painting.

SamArtDog said...

And don't you just LOVE your bad self that painted these?!

Anonymous said...

I didn't have time to respond when you first posted this but my self is nagging me now do to so. I have to tell you what your "pretty little pictures" mean to me. I own your quite beautiful "Quietly Descending." It hangs right across from where I sit every evening, by design it hangs there. I have experienced that peaceful, quiet evening in real life. No matter how stressful the day I can slip into a better state of mind by being in that scene in my mind. I know with the galleries and pressure to produce it is sometimes easy to forget how our work is received. May you read my note and realize that this experience is repeated many times over in many homes, possibly with paintings you have even forgotten. I look forward to seeing many more!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Great to hear all of your own personal voyages, discoveries and musings. It's good to know that we are of a similar mind set. I suppose it's always been this way for any serious painters/artists, and will continue to be. I was listening to a news program today about Penn and Teller. Teller said at one point that he read a sentence once that said something to the effect, concerning their magic, that "Where there wasn't a hat, there is now a hat". He was talking about how what they do is to create something from nothing, magically. He said that very statement makes him tear up because of how wonderful he feels when it happens. We can take that across to the visual arts easily. To realize that no matter what we do as painters, when we start there is NOTHING, but an idea. When we are done, there is a physical entity that can cause people to weep, laugh, turn in disgust, love, sigh, or simply sit in a serenity of contemplative wonderment. Wow! That's reason enough to dig into your soul as you paint, and show us all what comes from there.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Susan Neese... I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My condolences. What will flow from you will most likely be something that is new, but connected to all of what your past has been. That can't be bad, only different and more than could be before. Thank you.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Anonymous ...First, please don’t think that I am putting down any paintings with that comment. What I am getting at, and I think you’re an artist and will understand, is that as a painter, I am always questioning what I’m doing, and have done. It goes with the territory of being a painter. We want to always do our best work. Unlike a making a toaster, where it’s as easy as “Does it toast right? Does it look like the current fashion (i.e...will it sell), and is it safe for use?”… A painting is the naked expression of what was in the mind of the painter at the time it was painted. So to me, as the creator of these images, I have to ask myself if what is being shown is as up to ‘me’ as it can be.?

My saying that I paint 'pretty pictures' is more of my own recognition that that is who I am… I am not a painter who is going to go to NY and rent a beat up flat and toss buckets of paint on miles of canvas nailed to the wall. There is a part of me that kind of likes that idea, that was what I was expressing in the post, and actually thinks it would be something to try. The reality is, that is not me, I doubt that I will ever be there. The blog post was a conversation about that, similar to what I carry on with myself while in the studio.

When a painting, like the one that you own and wonderfully described what it means to you, comes off of my easel, and heads out of the studio, I have satisfaction that I’ve done something that is truly my own. That it has challenged me and has ended up showing something about the world that I am happy to share. Quietly Descending is certainly one of those.

What I don’t want to have happen in my painting life/career, is to ever give in and only push out the cookie cutter type paintings that make me money, but don’t satisfy my artistic spirit from within. When I complete a painting like the one you own, I have satisfied that spirit. The ones that don’t, are in the half dozen 35 gallon plastic bins and lined up, facing the studio wall. Or painted over with new paintings on top. I’m very tough on myself and my art work. I understand the growth process a painter goes through from start and through out life, and am always interested in the physiology and practicality of it all. I want to continue to grow and challenge my comfort level as a painter, and unfortunately, write about it. :)

Thank you for the post. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that a painting is treasured buy someone, as you’ve indicated that one is. I mentioned that in the blog post, and mean every word of it.

Sue Marrazzo said...

REALLY COOL!!!

Peter Russell said...

Nice painting with color combo.