Monday, August 10

Overcome the Blank Canvas

Life is funny, even for artists, don’t you think? I’m talking about the small coincidences and oddities that weave themselves into, around, and out of everyday life. Most days, I have no notion of what art-y subject I may blog about until I sit down at the laptop keyboard. Today when I sat down at my keyboard, I had no ideas in my head; nothing was sticking.

To get my mind off of it, I logged into my Twitter account. If you don’t know of what I speak, you must have recently been off the planet. Anyway, I was reading the latest tweets from the 190 people (mostly artists of some kind) I’m following. The tweets scroll endlessly as they are posted.

One caught my eye. It read: “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” – Paul Cezanne. I won’t mention the name of the person I follow, but thanks! Your tweet provided the idea for Today’s Image and art blog, which is about overcoming fear of a blank canvas.

Do you remember this old magazine ad from a long, long time ago? Or maybe you are or were in the advertising industry, it goes: “They laughed when I sat down, but when I started to play…” The ad was about a guy who surprised everyone in the room because he secretly learned to play the piano like Beethoven, and nobody knew. (I guess it sold a lot of pianos.)

Change it up for artists, and you get, “They laughed when I stood at the blank canvas, but when I started to paint…” I am saying the act of painting takes fortitude.

Maybe it’s anxiety. Some artists are most private. Their work is their own creation, and they really don’t want to expose themselves in such a manner. We should respect that. However, you must overcome the canvas and get started.

If you're afraid of getting hurt by what someone may say, don't be. That can hold a lot of artists back but don't let it. Think of criticism as just another way of learning.

Standing before a blank canvas and feeling so fine and so terrible all at the same time is amazing. It’s pleasure and pain. To me, the act of painting is a personal expression of what I want others to see through my eyes. It’s very selfish if you think about it like that, and powerful.

Many artists probably don’t think of it as power, but it is. You are in control. You provide the viewpoint. Getting back to that blank canvas, it’s your world within the confines of the four edges of the canvas. You can make it whatever you want it to be. You set the mood, you create the subject, and you hope you leave the viewer changed or at least with something to ponder.

Life is nothing but a continuing series of choices that you make. So paint that picture for the world see. You have something to say as an artist even if you haven’t figured out what that is yet. It is important.

As Henri Matisse said, and as I’ve mentioned previously in the blog, creativity takes courage. Overcome the blank canvas and fear not.


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