Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A New Direction

"There's no point in being an artist if you have to subscribe to the actual moulds people would like you to inherit." -- Eduardo Paolozzi

"After an insight occurs, one must check it out to see if the connections genuinely make sense. The painter steps back from the canvas to see whether the composition works, the poet rereads the verse with a more critical eye, the scientist sits down to do the calculations or run the experiments. Most lovely insights never go any farther, because under the cold light of reason fatal flaws appear. But if everything checks out, the slow and often routine work of elaboration begins.

"There are four main conditions that are important during this stage of the process. First of all, the person must pay attention to the developing work, to notice when new ideas, new problems, and new insights arise out of the interaction with the medium. Keeping the mind open and flexible is an important aspect of the way creative persons carry on their work. Next, one must pay attention to one's goals and feelings, to know whether the work is indeed proceeding as intended. The third condition is to keep in touch with domain knowledge, to use the most effective techniques, the fullest information, and the best theories as one proceeds. And finally, especially in the later stages of the process, it is important to listen to colleagues in the field. By interacting with others involved with similar problems, it is possible to correct a line of solution that is going in the wrong direction, to refine and focus one's ideas, and to find the most convincing mode of presenting them, the one that has the best chance of being accepted."

-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity (NY: HarperPerennial, 1997), pages 104-105.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Square One

Chant I, oil on canvas, 12x12 inches, © 2009 Diane McGregor

"Art in everyday life seems to be our destination. The question is, how do we begin? Our main purpose is to develop an understanding of life and art. If we don't have a life of our own, we don't have art of our own, so we end up discussing the question of what is life -- which is art, naturally. Life is based on various concepts and ideas, such as life being a big drama, a fantastic showpiece, an absolute torture chamber, or just gray. We have all kinds of ideas about it. But there seems to be a problem when we try to reshape the world. We don't reshape the world haphazardly, of course; we reshape it in accord with our beliefs and our dreams. So the world is reshaped according to our own ideas and the way we want it to be....

"Obviously, we must think first before we do. But the question is more complex: how to think, what to think, why to think, what is 'to think'?...The thinking process has to be directed into a certain approach. That does not mean that your thinking process should be in accord with certain dogma, philosophy, or concepts. Instead, one has to know the thinker itself. So we are back to square one, the thinker itself: who or what thinks, and what is the thought process?...

Chant II, oil on canvas, 12x12 inches, © 2009 Diane McGregor

"Any work of art is expressing ourselves in particular terms and concepts....What convinces you, if you are uncertain, that a work of art is a real expression of yourself? Or is a work of art something to make sure that the rest of the world is convinced about you, so that in turn you yourself find ground to exist?...

"Back to square one. That seems to be the starting point of any genuine expressions we might express. Genuine expressions have to be self-existing, born within one. So if you are going to express such genuine expressions, you have to get back to genuine ground. And so far as we are concerned, at this point the only genuine ground we have is back to square one."

The above quotes are taken from True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art by Chogyam Trungpa (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2008, pages 137-140).