What happens, happens mostly without you
What is it that happens, and where do you stand? Is it creativity that's being spoken about here? Does most of it happen without you, when you stand back to allow it to take place?
There is a new poetry book which recalls the practices of Joseph Albers, John Cage and others. It speaks about improvisatory methods of working. I remember reading about Alber's Black Mountain College where Albers promoted creativity within a retreat center in nature. The poetry here reinforces his ideas behind creative work and the abstract pathways of making. As Victoria Nebolsin in her article The Artists Who Wrote Poetry at Black Mountain states, "each verse strives for something larger: a way to liberate art as a process of genuine living and to liberate the self through the act of communing with others".
These lines in the above poem are relevant to what I am working with at the moment, process and stepping back from the intellectual making and allowing the movement of colour and form to arise. There is a distinct difference between intellectually driven work and abstract unfolding, but the question then arises about how to incorporate both, or if they are already inherently entwined? To work with abstraction you need to have a knowledge of materials and skills, but also the wherewithal to be able to step back and listen before engaging. Is this listening a form of collaboration, if only between the canvas and the painter? Alternatively, the intellectually bound painting begins with an idea but entails objective referencing as well, relying on intuition and still allowing for the unknown to become represented. Therefore improvisation exists in varying degrees in both representation and abstraction.
Another poem, entitled On My Painting, that Albers wrote on colour also struck me as pertinent to my experience of colour:
“When I paint / I think and see / first and most—color / but color as motion // Color not only accompanying / form of lateral extension / and after being moved / remaining arrested // But of perpetual inner movement / as aggression—to and from the spectator / besides interaction and interdependence / with shape and hue and light // Color in a direct and frontal focus / and when closely felt / as breathing and pulsating / —from within”