Friday, July 10, 2009

When Play Becomes Conflict

When I go into my studio, I tend to say things like “I’m going to go play with the paints” or “I’m going to play around and break some glass”. I may have a production deadline, but I refuse to begin thinking of what I do as work, in much the same way that I refuse to think of gardening as work. I love what I do, and to think of it as work would instantly suck all the fun out of it.
Having said that, this project has become WORK.100_2634 I decided to “play” with some oil pastels I found in my goodie closet. I have never used them before, don’t have any idea where they came from, but they have been in the closet for years, waiting for someone to give them a voice. I only wish I had known ahead of time that they’d start swearing.
This piece is still not finished. I need to develop the view in the distance more, and I think I will darken the foreground. But I’m terribly frustrated with this medium. The most difficult issue for me so far has been the inability to layer the colors very well. When I try to put a color on top of another, or just add to one that’s already there, I seem to be scraping off the previous layer. And oddly enough, that seems to be a problem with the greens, and to some extent the blues, but not the other colors. This happened even after sitting for about 4 weeks untouched, so I guess it’s not just because I need to let them “dry”. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.
The problem is, I don’t know if I’m just not going to become buddies with oil pastels, or if it’s because they’re student grade, or you shouldn’t let them sit around for years…whatever. Oil pastels and I….let’s just say our relationship is unresolved.
So while I’m on the subject of play in a creative context, I suggest you take a look at the blog ‘An Artist in Brooklyn’. Today’s post, Creative Blocks and Play goes into a discussion of how very necessary play is in the creative process, but acknowledges that different people will use that aspect in different parts of the process. Great post. And the author includes a quote that I think will become my new mantra -
One can be serious about the frivolous,
frivolous about the serious.
— Susan Sontag
So now I’m off to play in the garden, and let those oil pastels think about what they have done. Maybe they’ll be contrite when I come back.

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