A theme in all of our podcasts over time has been encouraging artistic growth. To us, growth is a given, something all of us strive as artists and as people. But what does it really mean to grow artistically and why is it important? What can you look for in your work to know if it is growing? Today we will look at what growth means in our studio practices and share thoughts about its importance.
The need for growth is embedded in our human psyches, and we all experience immense growth as children and as young people in every aspect of being. At a certain point, however, continuing to grow as artists can become a challenge. Instead it is easy to become complacent in doing what we are good at and what has brought us recognition and success. Yet an honest appraisal of our growth is energizing--offering new ideas and a deeper understanding of past work. Growth is also important to those who admire and collect our work. While not everyone will appreciate every stage of our work, a reputation as someone unafraid of change is positive.
Growth often encompasses elements of past work. So re-visiting past acheivements and exploring paths not taken are good sources of ideas. In the time that has passed since that work, you will have learned a great deal through practice, or an intentional focus on things like use of color or composition. Coming back again to important ideas in new ways is a good sign of growth; these core interests provide consistency as well as variety and expansion. Another sign of a growing artist is a willingness to take side trips into other media or subject matter. These forays can build on one another and contribute to your overall body of work. Intuition plays a role in this--following impulses toward doing things that don't seem related can reveal their importance later.
The desire for forward motion is part of the human condition but we are all free to interpret that in different ways, and we should understand our issues and limitations without berating ourselves. Growth has its own logic and timespan so it does no good to compare ourselves to others. Progress will happen almost inevitably, but fully embracing change and growth can have a powerful impact on your work.
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