Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Atlin Lake art vacation

I went on a self-paid artist residency to Atlin Centre for the Arts. Basically, an art teacher bought and developed a lovely property halfway up a mountain near a tiny little gold-rush town in British Columbia, way up north, almost in the Yukon, and built cabins and tent platforms and ran a summer art school program.

I just wanted a bit of a getaway, in an artist-friendly place, where I could be alone and able to work on my drawings, pretending it's my full-time activity for a week. I wanted to be surrounded by nature, because nature is beautiful, and it's nice to see a tree right in front of you when you want to draw a tree.

Another artist couple from Australia was interested in the teaching aspect of the place, so Gernot ran a few workshop sessions that I attended. The general aim was for people to break down and re-invent their artistic processes, to let go of thinking and rationality (but still maintain your knowledge of what makes a good composition) and be more spontaneous, making art from within.

However, since I didn't come to this place with the aim of re-making my process, but rather just having time and space and the intention to make all the art that I haven't been making for the past six months, I wasn't ready to benefit from ideas like that. I don't respond well to religious or artistic evangelism. I'm not easily infected with a spirit of amazement and reinvention, and I feel like I don't get it. I'm too cynical, I don't believe that I contain within myself everything I need to just make spontaneous, emotional gestures on the page that would be interesting to anyone. I may be a bit deficient in this respect, but I think that since I know this about myself, and I know what kind of art I'm interested in making, I am better off continuing and striving in this vein, and leaving abstract spiritual art to others.

All of these drawings looked better before colour was added. When I compose an image, I'm constantly making decisions as to what density or interval of line is appropriate to convey the right information. I decide all of this with the lines, leaving no information for the colours to convey. I don't think ahead to the colour when I make the lines; if I did, I would need to hold back on some of the lines, and let the colours speak. The way I make pictures now, the colours are just confusing, and actually take clarity away from the image.

I am still continuing in the vein of self-invented mythology, using tropes and themes and symbols that are commonly found in many, many stories. I am making fairytale illustrations of psychological conditions, or fanciful ideas of people's place in the world. It's a formula, in a way. It's a bit dispassionate, because I am not a believer of myths (though I don't know if myths are traditionally "believed" literally anyway).

Every image i make is a little bit mocking, a bit self-aware. But at some point it crosses into naieve, goofy, sincerity. I also seem to include a lot of vulgarity in my drawings. I'm not sure if this is beneficial to any idea I might have, or if it's just a way to get attention.