Thursday, February 10, 2011

Know Who You Are as an Artist: Find your niche

Today I am changing the title of my blog from The Creative Process: Painting and Printmaking, to The Creative Process: of Woodcut Printmaking.  

I am working on a new woodcut today in my studio. I am in the first stages of making some of the first cuts right after the drawing is completed. I do a lot of thinking while I am in the middle of creating or "doing" the art. Knowing who you are as an artist is important so you know what your focus is when you are making any statement. It is important to recognize where you are making the biggest contribution to art. For Henry Moore it was sculpture, for Van Gogh it was painting. Defining who you are as an artist is a challenge and it is also something you should always know.

I have met many people over the years and and when asked what I do, I usually say, "I am a painter and a printmaker." That is what I knew and believed. I thought I was a painter, as I do paint, I still paint, and printmaking was relegated in my mind as secondary due to its associated 2nd class status to paintings. Prints sometimes involve making large editions, or seem less accomplished when compared with paintings. But I came to realize today, that I am not much of an experimental painter as I am an experimental woodcut printmaker.

When I paint, I paint in a comfortable style, without many changes over the years, and paintings are now inspired by a series of prints. I only make a few paintings per year, while producing a much greater number of woodcut prints.

When I first took up lino/woodcut as my primary printmaking method over 20 years ago, I thought I was making less accomplished versions of paintings I had created. But after reviewing a portfolio of my work today you will find I have produced far more different works in lino/woodcut than painting. Along with the quantity, I found far more experimentation and realizing that I am do my primary experimental and creative work as a woodcut printmaker.

I  now introduce myself as a woodcut printmaker, even though I have been all along. It just took time for the fantasy of being a romantic Van Gogh like painter was really not me. I still paint with vigor, intense feeling and, thought, but my primary working medium is woodcut. I am a woodworker, I use my hands to create, I experiment with different materials, techniques, and ideas. I define what woodcut printmaking is, and not the other way around.

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