Oil Painters of America in Fredericksburg, Texas was an event that filled me with many thoughts and emotions. So much talent present in this event has still left me with so much to think about. InSight Gallery was the host and the exhibition was beyond description. The work displayed was magnificent and the gallery was truly first class. The speaker that brought many to tears, even some men, was Joe Paquet who spoke on authenticity and voice. His profound statements that was peppered throughout the one and a half hour presentations was worth the price of admission. "Make a conscious choice to surround yourself with authentic words, music and art to remind you what is possible." Authenticity is the cornerstone that I took away from this talk. What is it? His example may help to understand the concept. He shared the time when he walked out of the final Harry Potter movie. He was struck by something, he felt, was much larger than the film, it was that fact that Ms. Rowling built this thing, this idea from thin air, moved words around in a personal way, created a world, which had not existed and turned it into a very real thing. That is what we (artists) do everyday, we create, he said. We create what has never existed, bring something to the world and shape it with our own hearts and hands. It's a gift we have which is easy to lose sight of.
Voice is part of this authenticity. How do we arrive at this illusive element that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary? It's what you observe that captures your attention and says, "Paint Me." It's what remains in your visual memory after viewing a(an) scene, object, a person. It requires us to be always vigilant to our surroundings and hone our skills of memory. No easy task but necessary if we want to take our art to a level that separates us from the ordinary. Words that Joe used were uncommon beauty, wholly remarkable, feeling vs. seeing. He further stated that the true path was an organic one. Know yourself NOT your audience.
As I stood and began to walk toward the exit, Joe was standing to the side. I couldn't help but ask the question that still was giving me some angst. Could a series of paintings that encompassed a theme be authentic? As a still life painter your subject matter can be contrived. You bring the elements together as opposed to a plein air painter who discovers their subject matter. His answer confused me and still I didn't understand. With his keen sense of understanding, he simply asked. Do you know the different between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation? He had to say no more. I got it. When we paint for an audience or because our galleries want more of a particular subject matter, then we are not being authentic. Painting a theme or series is not what matters. It's the motivation for painting a subject that makes the difference.
My big aha was this for me personally. If I paint similar images over and over because I love those objects and because each time it brings something internal that satisfies me and is like the first time I painted it, then it is authentic. If I paint those subjects over and over again because my buyers want those images, then it ceases to be authentic.
As I have stated in earlier posts and blogs, this making of art is a journey. And too often we don't know what we don't know. I'm sure though, when we need the knowledge and understanding, it comes to us. We just need to be hungry for it and aware that we don't know it all. If our cup is full (full of our own ego and self) then we have no room for new understanding. You can not fill a cup that is overflowing.