I turned 50 years old a couple of days ago. Congratulations to me.
Even after a half century of life, I’m still a child in many ways. If you believe my wife, that’s not a bad thing. She says I’m “childlike”, not “childish”, which I guess means I have more in common with a playful imp than a spoiled brat. But I know that even at fifty, I still have deposits of immaturity running through me. I am embarrassed by them when they reveal themselves. I hate it when I catch myself being self-centered and selfish. I hate it even more when I don’t catch it. At least when I catch it I can hopefully mitigate the damage by apologizing. Not catching it just confirms that I’m still an asshole and have some growing to do.
However, there are advantages to keeping that inner child alive and active within us. It is the source of our adventuring and experimentation. It is what helps us attempt what is new and appreciate what is old. It is the part inside that is immune from the growing cynicism that accompanies a pessimistic interpretation of our experience. And it is the part that allows us to take chances.
My painting is the physical manifestation of my inner adventurous child. And as with any adventure, exploration is the key. Not only must we explore where to go, we must also explore how to get there. The styles and methods we use are the voices we use to tell the story of that adventure.
Over the years we develop many voices. We have a social voice, a poetic voice, a problem-solving voice. We have our humor voices and our tenderness voices and our serious voices. Each one can be identified as ours by those who know us. They are the way we do things. They are our signatures. Some are adaptations of others. Some are unique. But all can be recognized as ours.
I’ve been looking for my painting voice — that distinct style I hope is originally me. Much of what I do is old hat. It’s easily identified as abstract expressionism. And for me, that is a good start. I enjoy it and find it fulfilling to create in this way. But there is something missing. There is nothing in what I do that would differentiate it from any other splatter/drip painter (except for my obvious lack of talent).
And it’s time to change that.
So, the picture below is an attempt to utter a creative sound that hints at a different direction, but still incorporates the abstract expressionism I find so magnetic. I don’t know if it will work for others, but it works for me.
And I had fun doing it.
That’s really all that matters to an inner child anyway, right?