Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Shut Up and Dance" .... musings on an artist at work

Painting a Day - series Twilight No. 102, 103, 104 each 4 x 4" acrylic on canvas, wall mount.

$ 45.00 set

I no longer own a television set ( an idea that the Comcast people just can't grasp as they insist on telemarketing to me every night at dinner time just how much I need cable TV.) I long ago grew up without one and the few times in my life (my marriage to my ex) when there was on in the house I rarely found anything worth the hours lost in front of it.

That being said however: Once years ago (1996) I saw a program called "Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton" on which the brilliant character actor Christopher Walken was being interviewed. Mr. Walken spoke of his life in the theatre and how he started out being a song and dance man but turned to straight acting when he got his first role (at 15). One of the moments I remember most about his interview was his mention of a T-shirt he owned that said "Shut up and Dance". He said it was a reflection on how all artists, not just dancers, could spend so much more time TALKING about their craft instead of DOING it.

Actors spend hours at parties and in bars talking about their "process". Writers spend years "planning" their big novel. Singers spend many more hours talking about their vocal problems than practising and learning new music. And painters waste hours staring at a blank canvas afraid to make the first mark. Mr. Walken's t-shirt was just a comic reminder to "get on with it"! Nothing can begin until we take action.

As a painter I can wait for inspiration to hit me... or not. I have learned that for me to improve as an artist I have to paint. Every minute that I am at the canvas and working out new problems is a minute closer to being a good painter. Yes being self taught means that I read a lot, I view a lot of art. And I do spend a lot of time thinking bout my craft. But the real improvement and growth comes when I paint. When I do . When I am being a painter, as in the active verb tense.

Goethe's now famous lines hold more than a grain of truth:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Until next time

Create Beauty and fill the world with Love