This is a really interesting series of videos from a conversation between Chuck Close and Paul Simon. The one I’m linking to is the one that impacted me the most. Hearing how different art forms have similar processes was really cool. The biggest thing I took away from it was how you have to go in the direction that brings you joy as an artist. I have spent a lot of time worrying about finding my niche and making work that appeals to that “market”. But after listening to Paul Simon talk about how he sings what he loves instead of doing all the old songs from the 60′s at every concert, I think that making everything based on how happy it makes your customers is not as important as I thought. True, not as many people may come to his concerts, but the ones who do still enjoy it and he enjoys it as well. It got me thinking about how some people like some of my paintings and tell me that I should do more of that style, but when I try to do it but it makes me miserable. Or someone asks me to teach them watercolors when I paint with acrylics. I end up forcing myself to do something that isn’t me so I can make someone else happy, but then I end up frustrated and they probably could have gotten more from a person who actually enjoys that style/media. (I loved what Paul Simon said about choosing to not be frustrated – so true!)
Chuck Close talks about how the last painting in a series is often the basis for the first painting in his next series. He sees things he likes in his previous work and he tries to expand on that in his next painting. That was so good to hear, because many times I look at how my work has changed in the past year and I worry that it’s not cohesive enough. But honestly, wouldn’t it be pretty boring if every painting I did looked just like the one before it? Sure, there are still a lot of elements that stay the same (Chuck Close hasn’t started painting landscapes that I know of), but there’s still a progression and an evolution of his work that keeps you coming back to see what he has created every three years. (THREE YEARS in between shows! That is amazing!)
If you don’t want to watch all the videos, I suggest at least watching Parts 2, 4, 5, and 6. It’s so interesting to hear their stories about process, inspiration, and discarding ideas when they don’t work. There are some great things to learn from listening to these extremely talented artists. Please share your thoughts in the comments!