“Art has never been made while thinking of art.”
– Niko Stumpo
I’ve been thinking and writing lately about what you might call the artist’s intention in making art. What factors influence them, consciously and unconsciously, during their creativity. When you read about art history, it all sounds so organized and causally clear. This was happening in the world or in one’s life, so that made them think this or believe that, and that lead to them making this kind of art. Sounds logical. You can even read the artist’s words directly sometimes and it can sound as if they had a clear intention or thought when making their art. For some reason, this all fascinates me.
Perhaps because my own experience of making art feels different to me. As the above quote says, when I am actually making art, I’m not thinking about it. In fact my favorite work occurs when I get into that state where the mind actually ceases it’s chatter and you enter the “zone”. You can awaken from this hours later and realize you can’t remember a single thought – time has been suspended. It’s as close an experience as I know to deep meditation, where the same thing can occur. When reading the art history books we may get the impression that Picasso was actively engaged in mentally deconstructing reality and reformulating it while he was painting. Probably more likely he was in this suspended mental state while actually painting, like the rest of us.
Maybe all the thinking about art has to occur at other times, rather than while actually doing it. I’m sure some of that mental activity affects our art. at least unconsciously. It’s like an athlete doing drills, or a pianist doing scales – it’s useful to spend time doing these things, but once you’re actually performing the mind has to step aside. Or at least the logical, left brain mind needs to get out of the way. Many of the times I struggle in my work is when that side of the mind is still engaged.