I am a student of Life, Art and Writing. In Norway we often say: «Livet er ikke for nybegynnere!» This translates into English as «Life is not for novices».
Life is — in my opinion — hopefully a constant learning center and creative process, where we eventually learn new solutions and also how to avoid repeating old mistakes and behaviors — all too many times. But «Hey, shit happens … and History is doomed to repeat itself! Right?»
While learning and correcting ourselves faster and faster is both difficult and contingent upon many interpersonal, psychological, and external factors, it is nonetheless a clearly stated goal for many of us — even though we often lose track in our personal processes.
I am at “that difficult stage” in my current painting-in-progress. The concept and theme, the background and mood, and the main figurative elements are in place. But the decision making is by no means over. Should the final elements to be added in then be in colors that complement and partially blend in with the background, or should they emphasize the total concept in a more dramatic way that competes with the main imagery? And accordingly, what degree of abstraction should be eventually employed? How much intensity and drama should the final painting communicate? And how do I approach play with clichés as opposed to allowing the viewer to find his/her own associations — in spite of my own visual and conceptual leading on? Can I assume that the Viewer has a treasure trove of imagery and conceptual associations that is similar to my own?
These questions challenge me in all of my creative processes — in my Art, my writing, and in Life itself. I have often been quoted as saying that Art is about constant decision making:
“Visual art and literature are not only about technique, talent, style, and intuition, but also largely about choices and decisionmaking throughout every stage of the creative process — both that which is planned, and that which may seem to be ‘accidental’. Deconstruction/reconstruction, changing gears, and knowing when to stop revising are also important aspects of the artistic production process.”
Well, the same can also be said of Life’s processes. Life’s judgments and processes are both ever-changing with regard to a vast and active background of accompanying circumstances, scientific advancements and individual vs collective perspective developments. I simply do not have the ubiquitous or “definitive answers”. I choose to approach Life with a combination of drive, technical abilities and intuition based on my innate instincts and varying degrees of “pushing the envelope of Life”. Qualified judgments and behavior/actions, if you will — but all the same based upon elements of chance tinged with survival instinct. In the end, it is basically down to my own will to survive, will to struggle or fight, will to succeed … and the Lottery of Life choices. “Dare to struggle — dare to win”. I choose normally to avoid too much struggle and pain, but risk-taking is — for moi — a vital part of my own belief in the mechanism of Life. Life — like Art — involves constant decision making. I do not ascribe to the “que sera, sera” philosophy but rather to the belief in the demands of the Learning Process and my own ability to find corrections and adjustments where needed.
Everything has consequences — in Life, in Art, in writing … but much can be corrected along the way. Fortunately, in both Life and Art, we eventually learn from experience and from technical advancements, so that risk-taking allows us to supersede our fears of venturing beyond the basic laws and rules of perception, behavior, art making, writing, and perhaps sometimes even perceived safety. In this way, for me, Life is a canvas — a continuation of one painting or poem … one after another. And I also see each painting and poem that I create as an extension of all those preceding.
Where do we begin: do we start with the background or with the main subject of the painting? Like with Life, I send to chart the atmospheric elements before working with figurative details, but soon afterwards the back and forth complementary dance and process overtakes. And then the decision making takes on a whole new meaning — i.e. how to make it all into a symphonic work, and hopefully to avoid extensive re-working. This makes Life and Art/poetry — in my experience — vital, organic, immediate …
In both Life, Art and poetry we reach points where we have achieved that which our current capabilities allow. But we always know that the next time around … then, we are hopefully even better equipped to take things to the «next level».