I admit, I'm intimidated by a blank page. Sometimes. Other times, I dive in without reservation. But, there's always the unknown. There's always a bit of fear that I'll create something better suited for the trash than the wall. White space can be powerful. But an entire sheet of white space can be frightening. It shouldn't be.
Chuck Close says you can't hold back. When you reach obstacles, blast through them. When you have fear, face it square on and go for it. The results are breakthroughs - steps toward a new plateau. That's how you grow as an artist.
William Park said something similar in a conversation we had last year. "Just keep painting." Don't be judgmental about your own work. Just keep working. It was a very inspiring conversation. His energy and curiosity about what's next is contagious.
I enjoy walking into a room of strangers. I enjoy meeting new people, exploring new experiences, discovering new information, doing things differently. So, why do I sometimes find white space so intimidating? I think it's a fear of cutting loose and just creating something without control. But, Close is right. Park is right. You can't hold back. You can't defeat yourself. You can't let your own fear limit what you create.
The paintings I consider my best are usually the ones where I reached an obstacle and pushed past it. Many paintings confront me with a crisis point. Is it time to quit? Is it time to be satisfied with something safe? Or is it time to push further. I'll concede, not every confrontation with these obstacles results in success. But, I believe more often than not, something good happens. It may not manifest itself today. But something happens. The next time I'm faced with a similar dilemma, instead of dancing around it, I confront it and move past it with more confidence and more control.
An old friend and successful painter, HK Miller once told me he faces fear with every blank canvas. I guess we all feel fear when we confront the unknown. The real painters are the ones who admit it, dismiss it, move on and create something, anything to regain control over their destiny.
On October 11, 12, 18 and 19, Portland Open Studio Tour will expose local artists to the public. Artists will be displaying and talking about their work, their processes, their inspirations and their obstacles. I'll be among the 96 artists featured this year. I'm honored to be included with people like William Park. See the complete list of artists.