For me making visual art has a direct connection to expression, to ‘saying something’, and rediscovering this immediate expression has reminded me (after having studied the craft of music for such a long time) the importance of expression over craft in music.
I think I stopped making art because there were people who were better at it than me, and that made me envious, and the envy took the fun out of it. Now, I try to just make art for the joy and self growth it provides me. Of course there is a part of me that hopes people will be able to relate to my work and discover something of themselves within it.
Painting and drawing was one of the first things I did as a child that gave me self esteem, but also one of the first things I did that got me into trouble. Apparently, while attending kindergarten, I painted a picture of a naked lady. The teacher thought this was unusual and told my mom. I still don’t see what’s wrong with painting a naked women? I guess all good things in this world come with their share of controversy.
Fast forward four or five years and there I am drawing on my desk. The best one I ever did was a portrait of a ninja I did in my grade 5 portapack. I remember this habit of mine being major source of conflict between my teachers and I. Drawing was much more rewarding to me than listening to the lesson, and I had the source of pride that when the class switched over to the next period, my desks next inhabitant would enjoy the fruits of my labor.
There is a transient element to painting that this memory brings to the fore. The fact that the painting wasn’t mine anymore after it was finished, and that I had to let it go in order to fulfill its destiny. One well meaning teacher tried to get me to tape paper down to my desk and draw on that, but it just wasn’t the same… years later I discovered a similar lack of connection with prophylactics. On a technical note, I liked the way pencil shaded into the desk top in a much more malleable way than it did with paper, and I didn’t like the stark white of the paper compared to the warmer desktop finish. I was indignant that the teacher thought the cleanliness of my desk took precedence over my artistic expression and development. Why couldn’t they see how important this was? Why didn’t they know how it was one of the few things that I felt I could do that made me unique and of value? Why would a so called educator want to take that away from their student? From a child? It still boggles my mind. My parents and sister were pretty supportive, and
I would be remiss to not account the few teachers who did encourage me. There were some, but mainly it was the impressed comments and looks that my peers gave me that kept me going. That is, until I stopped.
Later there would be discouragement from friends, looking back I think it resulted from either envy or a myopic understanding of who I was as a person… to a degree, maybe I was responsible for that by misrepresenting myself to my peers out of insecurity.
This was after I’d pretty much stopped drawing or doing anything artistic other than music, and if I made an offhand remark that I liked art and had some talent, they’d laugh and say something like ‘ya andrew, the artist, haha!’
Being sensitive, this would make me crawl even further from considering making art again.
But art wanted to come out, and it would in bursts when given a chance. All it may take was a pen and a loading dock on a summer job and I’d lose my self for an hour here and there.
Join us on Saturday October 21st at Gerrard Art Space for the launch of Gunslinger by Andrew James Barker: