Intersections II by George Woollard

Being Big and Being Original

There is a popular misconception that the way to get into doing large format works is to start with little ones and work your way up in size. This is similar to the idea that the way to be more original is to first learn basic skills and gradually get more creative. My experience is that we only get better at what we practice. Little paintings will only lead to more little paintings and technical skills will only lead to more technical skills. It is intention that counts. Your composition will never work until the parts are proportioned to the whole no matter what size it is. And it is also true that originality flows from an inventive mind whether trained or not. The real issues are do you need to work large and do you need to be more original? These two questions are linked. We are talking about punch, the ability of the art work to grab attention.

We could call this quality monumentality. It is the feeling that the work is grand in scale even if it is only a postage stamp. We need to feel like we are working on a human scale that allows us to enter physically into the space. This is an exhilarating sensation.

Being original and being different is a matter of not looking like anything else you know. It is the default of avoiding all the known things. Originality is actually quite simple to achieve. Just be true to your origins, be yourself. Every human being on the planet is one of a kind. We are all like walking works of art.

Of course, art is never so simple. This is because we do not understand what it is  good for. How can we work with purpose and determination if we do not understand the objectives? A portrait artist knows that he needs to make a likeness, a political cartoonist knows that he  needs to poke fun at politicians. But for most of us, why we make art is an open question. Perhaps, art is self reflection. It is way of looking at ourselves that tells us who we are as human beings. We make something, we see it and then we believe it. We are in effect holding up a mirror to ourselves. When we do something novel, when we invent something we are effecting change in ourselves. It is like a mutation has taken place. And if we change ourselves we are changing the world around us at the same time. It is a ripple effect. Maybe large works make our looking and seeing more obvious. But little things can be just as effective and may connect more with different aspects of ourselves. I like to think that art is useful, not just as decoration but as a way to share in our humanity and to move the game forward.  But it only works if it is shared.

Intersections II by George Woollard

Intersections II / 48”x72” / collage and acrylic on canvas / 2017

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