An unexpected benefit of writing my artist’s statement

Posted on January 25, 2009

The Ice is Cracking

Caroline Roberts 2008

30″x40″ acrylic on canvas

Driven partly by my goals for this year, and partly by mild panic that I will have an exhibition at my local coffee shop in March (yay!), I have started to write my artist’s statement. “What, you didn’t have one already?” I hear you cry. Well, frankly, no, I didn’t. Not for the same reasons as Deborah Paris mentions (although I don’t disagree with her), but because I just hadn’t written one. Until September if I had the thinking time then I was in the studio and my artist’s statement would have read “I make art because I like it and it pleases me. I use the materials I do because they are dry or dry quickly so the kids won’t get their fingers into them.” Honest, but perhaps too much so!

Now that my youngest is at school five mornings a week and my studio time, and therefore output, has increased, I’m using the process Alyson Stanfield outlines in her book, I’d Rather be in the Studio, essentially asking myself “What do I paint and why? What do I use and why?”. I now have a rough draft that I plan to share with friends tomorrow, when they come on a studio visit and can see the paintings ‘live’. No, I’m not going to share that rough draft here just yet – I want their input first because I know it has a lot of jagged edges.

I have read too many that are pretentious and incomprehensible.Deborah Paris

However, rough though my draft is, I have found that the simple process of thinking about my work in a structured way has unleashed a wave of creativity. I started five new paintings this week and have ideas for two others. I haven’t felt this kind of surge before, at least not without an external driving force (like a class) behind it. I think that for me, writing the artist’s statement has done for me what a mission statement does for enterprises – it’s given me a focus and a reason that was not clear to me before. Kind of like setting goals does but in a more abstract, higher level kind of a way.

One Response

  1. Alyson B. Stanfield
    January 25, 2009

    Caroline: I’m so glad you got so much out of the process of writing your statement. Just remember to keep working it. Keep thinking and questioning yourself. And it’s not just why you do things a certain way, but how other people can connect to that process. What’s in it for me?

    Reply

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