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The biggest question that this course has made me ask myself is “What is art?” I thought I knew, but I really had no idea.  I was convinced that art needed to be technical, substantial, and relatable to everyone.  Now I feel exactly the opposite.  By observing different types of art, like architecture, dance, and photography, I realized that art is about the transfer of emotion.  While skill and substance is often very helpful in conveying your thoughts and feelings onto a physical or tangible medium, all that is required is inspiration and creativity.  This is what makes art timeless; human emotion remains constant throughout time, so true art can always be appreciated because the desired effect will never fade.  This idea is what inspired me to join Anthony in action painting.  I wanted to do something I had never done before: create a medium on which I could bring forth my own emotions and share them with others.

I was never a fan of action painting and abstract expressionism, but I did like Jackson Pollock.  After watching his video in class, I became interested in his process of taking emotion and literally throwing it on a canvas.  It’s like creating something tangible out of things that I can hardly describe in words, and that interested me.

I thought I would feel more comfortable action painting instead of creating an image using more conventional methods because I think conventional methods are judged more harshly.  I would be too worried about what people would think and wouldn’t be able to just bring out my feelings.  And I was definitely glad I made that decision; action painting is so natural to me, it’s as though I’m speaking through the paint.  There are many techniques that I developed which all represented my emotions in ways that I didn’t think paint would be able to capture.  Sharper, quicker slashes created angry lines; smooth movements reflected softer emotions.  Using the thin side of the stick created thinner lines, which I liked to use for feelings that were present in my body, but in a very subtle state.  For the more dominant and outspoken emotions I used painted with the thick side facing the canvas, which created thicker lines and more splatters. These looked stronger than the thinner, more fluid lines, and they showed more on the canvas.  I liked the surprisingly large amount of variety in techniques, as well as the freedom to do whatever I wanted.  My style isn’t right or wrong, and different people will take it differently. I like this concept; I feel like my art is worth more when people can take it and apply it to themselves, as opposed to the more conventional styles, which are judged on the standards of society.  When people look at my art they won’t evaluate the quality of the paint, they’ll take it and let it inspire them, which I find delightful.

But even though my technique was unique, it wasn’t easy to develop. When I began the project I still had a lot of misconceptions about art that held me back.  For example, I realized I was way too focused on how the painting would look, instead of how I was really bringing my current emotions forward.  It took me a while to realize that if the art honestly reflected my personality it would look much better than if I had tried to make it look pretty.  When I looked at Anthony’s paintings, I saw that he was much more relaxed than I was and he just let himself go.  This made his work seem more genuine, and in my opinion his paintings looked better for the same reason.  To fix this problem, I began painting with my eyes closed.  I thought that if I couldn’t see the canvas, I wouldn’t worry about how the paint was going to land on it.  I instead just struck the canvas using techniques that I found conveyed my feelings, and used colors that I thought fit the mood I was in.  In the end, I thought that the second painting came out better than the first.  I feel like it’s more genuine and it can be interpreted in a variety of ways, as opposed to the first painting which was held back by my concern with aesthetic appeal.  It was also difficult to master the techniques that I used.  Getting the paint exactly where I wanted it was no easy task, and it wasn’t until the final painting that I developed the ability to direct the paint.  One reason for having so many layers in my paintings were to cover up the mistakes I made.  If I the paint didn’t land in a way that reflected the emotions I was trying to convey, I needed to paint over it.  This made the second painting difficult because I couldn’t see what I was painting, but overall I would say the second painting was more relaxing because the way it looked wasn’t my first priority.  In fact, overall these difficulties enhanced the entire experience because now I feel more satisfied with the end products.

We also had to consider color.  Anthony and I felt similarly about the effects of different colors. We found that blue, purple, and orange sank into the canvas, while red, yellow, and green popped out.  We therefore used the more bold colors to express dominant emotions while having secondary thoughts and aspects of ourselves represented in the background.  The art form seemed really simple, but when we considered all of its different elements it became much more technical and complex.  We definitely were surprised by the challenge, but in the end we had some fantastic paintings.

Presenting these paintings went equally well.  I was very concerned about the class’s reaction to our paintings because they were so personal. I put so much of myself into this project that I wondered whether or not anyone but myself would enjoy it.  I began to fear that perhaps I didn’t put enough emotion into the art, and that my personality wouldn’t be conveyed very well.  However, the class seemed to appreciate our hard work, which was all I could ask for.  The video was a bit too long, but I liked being able to explain my creative process in my own words, which I felt was more personal and highlighted the paintings rather well.

This project is a representation of how much this class has developed and changed my opinions.  I was ignorant and apathetic towards art; I didn’t see the point because I couldn’t understand the work that artists put into it, and I really didn’t know what art was.  But throughout the course, and this project, I was able to learn how to appreciate art in all its forms. I realized that art isn’t easy, and it takes someone who truly understands themselves and their art to do it well. Hopefully, this project and this class has made me more like that kind of person.

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