Reflections on art and leadership

I use my art to reflect an artist and a senior manager in the financial services industry. I notice that the deeper I understand myself the more I succeed to impact others; in both art and work.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why 'emptying the pipes' before painting



Here is the situation...you have been looking forward to having some time to paint, you are at the maximum level of inspiration (or at least filled with impressions and ideas, longing to paint) and you stand in front of the half-ready painting that you left some time ago. You know the painting has potential, the start was good...but you also know you could be at the point of ruining the whole composition...with no "undo"-button like on your computer....you almost freeze

So, what do you do....

First maybe to look at what is at the source of this issue. In my experience there are 2 elements:

a. the pressure to ruin a promising painting/drawing
I have observed this also when giving workshops; people made a nice first line and are then afraid to ruin it. This happens for adults only by the way, children do not know this fear that is based on setting too high expectations. Result is that we stay too safe and do not reach a richer composition, keeping it simple and stopping while actually more 'feeling' is required to actually touch yourself (and increasing therefore the chance of touching others...)
b. the dominance of 'thoughts' in the mind...
There is a clear difference between rationally drawn lines and lines drawn with feelings. I observed that when you come from rational activity and lots of thinking there is still a dominance of ratio that makes you think too much while drawing, instead of feeling the drawing. In that state I would consider myself to be more 'decorating the image' than actually 'expressing myself' or 'drawing from the heart'. And decorating brings images that fail in providing a rich expression that shows both necessary friction combined with harmony.
After adding a layer of red oil paint,
now waiting to be finished...or ruined

I have found for myself a way to deal with this, and it was great to experience this yesterday evening. I was facing a nice composition and after work and dinner thought to continue where I stopped some 2 weeks ago. I was 'thinking where to start and doubted between: simplifying composition by adding a thick layer in some areas or running the risk of adding detail and ending up in complete chaos. I realised I was in thinking mode and should take a step back:
1. focus on feelings
I put on music, closed my eyes, focusing on my feelings, feeling myself breathing and being touched by the music.
2. empty the pipes
I took my pencils and a piece of paper and started another small drawing. I call this 'emptying the pipes' as it helps to get rid of the primary rational elements that block my mind, removes the first set of clich├ęs and safe patterns, and truly frees up and opens my mind.




After that I looked at the painting and tried to connect, feel where it touched me... I took the red paint and started small and in a flow I added a new layer, working in one stream of strokes until a new layer was finished.

Does this mean this should be done by everyone?

Probably not, although in discussions I have heard artists struggle with similar issues and mentioning that they needed to empty their minds before starting to work...

Does this mean I found the ultimate answer or approach?

Afraid the answer can never be a full 'yes'...and I guess that now I just need to be sure not to screw up the next layer ;)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The way images revive memories

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Onweerstaanbaar naar zijn doel
Some two years ago after quite some things happened in my own life I went for a visit at my friend Arjan, who lives in a nice village not too far from Clermont-Ferrand.

There I had the opportunity to watch Arjan and his original deep black Frisian horse while making a start with two paintings.

2 weeks ago I found those initial paintings and all of a sudden memories started to come back. Not only memories, but also the feeling I had at that time and our personal stories that were shared during these few days that I stayed with Arjan and his wife Gerrie.

It touched me and this last week and especially this weekend I could 'dive' into those feelings and finish the painting, working passionately on all the details, like ritually re-living these moments and the impressive memory of this giant horse. And the impressions of Arjan determined to gain confidence of the horse, making it walk and run circles in the sand controlled by his voice.

I find it amazing how paintings and expressions can bring back memories like nothing else, even in some cases transferring the emotions and deeper feelings to a new audience, that now for the first time can take notice of the connection between a man, a horse and the observer.

I hope Arjan likes it too by the way as it is not an exact replica of him and his horse, but more the way I felt it. Gven it a title meaning: "irresistably towards his goal"


This is a painting in the series of Unconscious Power; you can read more about this concept in this blog or on my main website at the concepts