When people see my work I find it interesting that at least one question will be about how I was feeling when I was making it.
I'm not sure I 'feel' anything.
I might feel frustrated at times if I can't see the next mark, or pleased with the way a concept is turning out, and even happy (or just relieved) when a piece is finished. I tend to see the process as rational and intellectual (and creative), but not emotional.
That's not to say there isn't a reactive aspect to abstraction. The abstract artist makes marks to complement or juxtapose the marks already made. But reaction can be thoughtful and considered. Watch Jackson Pollock stalking the finished work as he dances around his canvases. Malevich's Black Square (1915) was the product of at least two years of careful planning and multiple iterations before he’d finished the definitive version.
While thinking about this I listened to a podcast discussing the work of Sol LeWitt. LeWitt died in 2007 but left written instructions for creating various works of art, so his work is still being made today. The presenter and an artist discuss whether they are really LeWitt pieces, given that he isn’t painting them, and although the people who did paint them are named as the ‘artists’, they didn’t do any of the conceptual work behind them (or did they?). It’s worth listening to the podcast to find out what they thought. But there was an interesting exchange that is relevant to the topic at hand.
The artist discussing LeWitt’s work talks about ‘Decision Time vs No Decision Time’. ‘Decision time’ is time spent making marks, choosing colours, conceptualising the painting. ‘No decision time’ is time spent “...filling in a pattern...It’s much more frightening to go into the studio and know that it’s going to be 6 hours of decision time.”
Surely ‘decision’ is rational. Or at least, decisions benefit from being approached rationally.
Looking through my art books I can see emotional elements in some creative processes. Perhaps our love of Modernism has convinced us to be too scientific and rational in our approach to the creative process. But then if my frustration boils over and I attack the canvas with my palette knife, is that a process of creation or destruction?
Maybe I'm over-thinking it.
How do you approach your work? Feel free to comment below.