William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Thursday, January 31, 2008

# 3: The Question of Freedom

"What now?"
"What now?" (closeup)

I want to consider the issue of freedom, that is, the freedom I feel when I paint. I believe I'm like a lot of painters. Sometimes we feel so free, like we could do anything. And other times, we feel very reflective, bound by inhibitions, once in a while frozen by an emotion that's close to fear.

Personally, I like the totally free feeling, holding a paint brush like a sword and slashing right and left, knowing that every stroke is genius, or at least good. And, of course, finishing paintings in no time.

Well, if that's the ideal, it doesn't happen that often. More often, I think a lot about my paintings, about what I'm trying accomplish and the best way to get there. Yes, when I'm actually painting, the act of painting just happens. But the thoughts about painting take over a lot of my time.

What you're looking at above is a large mural - a hunk of parachute cloth about 4 feet wide and 5 or 6 feet high - painted in acrylics. With acrylics, you have to move fast, because the stuff dries almost immediately, on your support or on your palette.

I thought that painting in this big scale in acrylics would free me up. Well, it did. Yes, I became that swashbuckling pirate of a painter. I did feel really free. And for more reasons than just the fast-trying nature of the acrylics. Also, there is the knowledge that, because the paint dries so rapidly, you can go over any mistake or changed decision in the next three seconds. Literally.

And something else happened. One of my favorite styles, depending of course on the subject and my goals, is kind of a rough-edgd, impulsive style. Here it is. No illusion of realism here. We all know this is a painting, and we all know that this line or that shape of this or that color is there just because of what it does to the painting, not because it could make the painting more convincing.

This is important, because - as I said in one of my earlier blogs - a level of abstraction is better at expressing emotion.

What do you think?

The other issue I want to talk about is adding words to a painting. On the one hand, you could say that the painting should speak for itself, so why does an artist have to explain it? On the other hand, why not add words? A lot of painters do, especially with graphic novels.

But do the words demean the subject? Willie, the homeless man, explained to me that he wanted to get home, and I assume that he had family and a support network of friends in Trenton. But are the words too glib to show Willie respect?

Frankly, I can't make up my mind. I just painted those words because they came to me, and I was in this rush.

What do you think?

If you want to see the original, now hanging outside my studio, you can email me through this blog, or call me at 215-280-9580.

Again, thanks for listening.

Labels: ,