Saturday, October 31, 2009

always there's the process...

This quote I found scrawled in a journal the other night... having rewritten the name Macleod due to the lesson learnt that sometime later you may actually want to drag out a quote and it helps to be able to decipher it! I found the Guston quote poignant, as obviously did Euan Macleod , a NZ born artist based in Australia who's work I'm very drawn to.

Figure Sitting on Boat in Desert - Euan Macleod
2007 oil on poly-canvas 150 x 180 cm

The words "I leave too and the painting starts" resonate strongly. I'm reminded of what it takes to realise the approach to creating that works for us. The process may involve long hours and endless musing even if sometimes a work suddenly flows quite easily and is resolved with out considerable perspiration. Becoming receptive to the distinctive thinking and working processes of numerous artists has only added to coming to terms my own particularities of working. How many hours can be consumed invalidating a process that is true for us I wonder.
Getting out of our own way long enough to allow something to come through is of primary importance...I think Guston says that very well!

These 2 images above I noticed on the blog Four Seasons in a Life  just after starting on this post tonight. The post titled 'When is a work in progress finished?' somehow fitted with thoughts the Guston quote had prompted. If you visit this thoughful blog of artist Egmont Van Dyck he writes eloquently on his process of working on the material photographed above.
I must thank Egmont for his generous comments and acknowledgment in featuring my blog as his weblink of the month. When I recently came across 4 seasons I found I was drawn into a difference sense of time and space.
All established blogs have their defining character and mood - this one took me a little by surprise - a certain density and care-full-ness that caused me to slow down and consider.  Carefulness does not always wear positive connotations. However, in the way that often happens, we notice things that stand in stark contrast to certain of our own tendencies and processes. Egmont gives the word care full ness new meaning...reflected in his art, his writing, even his blog layout. What did not err to my thinking was the soulfulness - to read this blog and and his other one - The Artist Within Us  is to be quietly nudged to notice things, to encounter life more fully. Perhaps this is not something that will speak to all who visit, but evidently for a blog that's quite new, there is a sound audience who are noticing.


Mlle Paradis said...

Hi Sophie! Thanks for letting me know you stopped by my blog. I did actually find yours last week must have been thru D. Van Zyl's and her post on the string gardens that she borrowed from you? Love the glacier pics and I loved the Rex Ray and "Wall Collage" post. (The wall collages are so me.) Anyway, I could go on and on....we were just talking to someone on the wkend who has a brother in Brisbane and we've been meaning to come to Oz. Who's knows.....? I'll be back in any case in a cyber-way!

Art said...

What a great quote. I feel the same way about my writing.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

The Guston quote is most eloquent in which he expresses the process of painting. When he mentions his critics in his head leave, only then does his painting start, could not be more true.

I may be spontaneous when starting a painting, but once the process begins, the ghosts of my teachers appear like shadows behind me, adding their influences to a brush stoke here and there. Not until I clear the mind, shaking my critics does a little of my own personality emerge in the art. In the meantime, a good percentage of my art is an exercise in understanding the materials and their relationship to each other and how in the end they best reflect my personality, my real art.

Thank you Sophie for your kindness in sharing your blog by featuring my most recent work and links with your audience. I am most honoured and touched by your generosity.

I found Google ‘word verification’ most interesting, as it was ‘grade’. Even here my ghosts seem to intervene.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend

Sophie Munns said...

1. Mlle Paradis...
I just revisited your delightful blog - wonderful travel images from all over...and I really loved your post on Shopsins! I need to reread rather than skim such a post. Curious!
String gardens I found via the wonderful Deb Van Zyl whom I wrote to and will mention V soon on a post. Bit slow getting it together.
I hope you get to visit Oz...see you in Cyber space...

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Art,
thanks for leaving a comment. I visted your blog and was interested to see your 'post it' process for the novel in progress.
Best wishes with kicking out all the intruders to get down to writing!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Egmont,
It was a pleasure to feature something from your studio and refer to your blogs - by chance I saw that you had just posted on 'process' last night as I went to quickly post the small Guston quote.

Various defining factors determined my practice of not generally privileging one approach to Art over another. Years of piano studies as a child led to a fondness for Bach, Debussy and others, so it was not lack of appreciation for the wonders of European traditions that made me question the absence of music from the rest of the globe... but a deep restlessness for "the other".
In the Arts certain theories become fashion - omnipresent, even oppressively so -leading to disappointment, apathy or confoundedness ad infinitum.
My preference has long been for observing universal themes at play, across cultures and time, perrenial themes as well as those that are fresh and reinvigorating ideas about life now and what it takes to be moving forward -for me its so valuable to have an opportunity to understand much more of the experience and context behind a person's work when possible....and to have a feeling for life as something far beyond theoretical frameworks.
The present day formulaic response in Art seems to be the fall back position for those who are confused and overwhelmed. Perhaps this is why it seems so critically important that inner realm, the purpose, one's deepest values are identified and addressed in ones practice even if that takes a very long time to feel authentic and to fully emerge.
I applaud seeing this critical reflective work accompanying the aesthetic unfolding, attention to craft and materials. I think there are many ways to do this inner work and some feel less able to share what may feel like a very private process.
Addressing what it means in the whole sense, not just intellectually, over the long term, going beyond the rules, the fads, the surprisingly endless "dos and donts" for artists to get close to what Guston refers to is indeed a demanding road to travel.
But in the same way the best meals of our lives are not necessarily to be found in the finest, most revered 'temples' where perfection is immaculately orchestrated... so it may well be with the creative works that touch us most deeply.

Unlike the US Egmont Art blogs have been slow to catch on. Finding the right voice to adopt for a mature artist wanting to maintain a professional profile yet be able to enjoy what blogging offers is therefore quite an adventure. It sets one up...australians are great scoffers and being oneself can come at a price.
Frankly I reckon australians need to grow up on this account...the young ones are exceedingly unselfconscious and refreshing, open and sharing! The design community is leaps and bounds ahead of many in the art community who seem so hesitant about getting it wrong!

An artist who must have left Brisbane when I arrived here to live - Susan Buret ( is going against the tendency for serious artists to avoid blogging - she is also listed under my Brisbane Connections Bloglist. Susan document's things of importance to her, the work of others She reports on matters relating to her practice and finds a way to be reflective and share how the personal and professional interact in her world. Its wonderful to read of her journey n a new location where people may or may not be responsive an open . I know those challenges well! Each time an artist breaks out of the "too tight" mold and enters the broader conversation I think it is life-giving, and not just for the artist.
Thanks for setting the space for quality conversation Egmont and also to Susan, thanks for the inspiration!
A good weekend to all!

Maggie Neale said...

Thank you, Sophie, for the appropriate it spoke to me directly. I found you through Egmont when he urged us to find a new friend and I so enjoy your postings. You inspire me to be more thoughtful in my postings and to bring together a collection of interests with the words. I have more to learn and by reading other blogs I am.

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks Maggie.
Lovely that you have visited this blog down under!
It's very fascinating to read over time a whole variety of blogs I do agree...and as you say one can learn a great deal from the ones that speak to us or get us thinking in an unexpected way.
This blog has not being going that its still fresh in my memory what those first weeks of discovery were like.
Ive always loved reading, fiction and non fiction, good magazines and journals so for me it felt like suddenly i had access to an endless number of free journals on general and more obscure things.
Its wonderful to be able to give and receive with others in this way.
best wishes,

KatrinaRecycled said...

Hey Sophie thanks so much for sharing this with us, I love all the interesting bits you post and I and it has given me so much more to muse on........ Keep creating!!

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks Katrina,
Sounds like you are processing a lot of different parts of life at the moment...and being productive working on those paintings of Candace and your ceramic works. Would like to see more of those!
I love vessels made of ancient and yet perrenial.
See you soon I hope!

Sanne said...

Hi Sophie! beautiful words by Guston, to me they explain how to be free in your work, and i think you can also apply them in daily life.. (i am not sure if my little vocabulary explains what i really want to say..reading your post is informative in more ways ;-)
I also want to say that your words about my work means a lot to me, thank you very much for encourage me in my work with so many kilometers in between! :-) Your blog and work are a joy to read and look at, a lot of positive energy comes from it.

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Sanne,
I also think one could apply these words to daily life...
Thank you for your beautiful comments tonight. I've met such wonderful people via the is hard not to feel I must write a message ...there is so much beauty and that which is poignant in the can I not respond....even if only in select moments and places.
Our world is accustomed to a certain formulaic way with things, business driven, quality control, standards of excellence, success = money =whatever the latest fad is rah-rah-rah ....pumped up and spat out!

I just want to say hold on a minute - we are first and foremost human beings, with soulful and poetic needs and desires...however hammered out of us the capacity to experience this might feel or actually be ...its worth noticing and treasuring.
Once upon a time I had so many plans ....I want hold out for and speak up for the perrennial things of life that surround us. I used to have so many lists of what I wanted to create Sanne - perpetual busy-ness and productivity. Now I think longer and "do" less...but notice more and support other's doing their creating, especially when it touches me and feels natural to do so.
So late now...I must fly!
best wishes and good creating Sanne!