Monday, August 10, 2009

"The greatest enemy for an artist is ease. . repeating yourself once you get good at it". Chuck Close

Am I the only one who did not know about the struggles Chuck Close endured on his way to being a successful artist??

I have a kids book out from the library right now (there are advantages - shorter, big print, maybe the kids will pick it up) so now I know about the learning disabilities he struggled with as a child, so severe that a traditional college career was not in the cards. In a stroke of fortune that would seem unusual today, his local community college had a terrific art department, and he found his way there.

At right is Chuck Close's Kiki (Photo by bdunette/ Creative Commons). Although as a student he was very good at mimicking the work of other artists, he decided early on to force himself to work in a unique style, throwing away his familiar brushes and trying new tools: an airbrush, rags, sponges, and even an eraser attached to the end of an electric drill.

I had no idea that one reason he began with very larg
e, very detailed portraits was that seeing the whole was too overwhelming. He preferred to handle information in bite sizes. Not content to stay with one mode of working, he moved on from black and white to color.

His later, signature style of using nested circles and swirls of colors was developed after he suffered paralysis due to a spinal artery collapse. You probably know what I didn't: for more than twenty years now he's worked from a wheelchair
with a brush strapped to his hand.

"I think problem solving is highly over-rated. Problem creation is more interesting. If you want to react personally you have to move away from other people's ideas. . . .back yourself into your own corner where no one else's solutions apply and ask yourself to behave as an individual." (page 27, Chuck Close/Up Close by Greenberg and Jordan).

My corner is full of clutter right now, so I'll have to clean it first. Are you already creating some interesting problems? Do you consciously work this way?

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