Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Process and the Journey

Water Garden - Quilt Block Collage - (c) LM Curtiss jr~

Water Garden - Latex paint & Wallpaper on Masonite - 18"x18" - (c) Lewis M Curtiss jr~

I’ve turned yet another corner in how I make what I make.  Every time I turn a corner of innovation (making something “better”) it gives me pause.  I tend to turn back and, for just a moment, enjoy just how far I’ve come on this particular journey.

With each new “generation”, perhaps iteration is a better word, of the work I make; with each simpler, more powerful, process of making, I am liberated.  I am also exhilarated, because each new step I take in the journey represents new creative possibilities I hadn’t encountered before.  It’s almost as if the art itself is alive and maturing, which it is in a way.

I am, of course, a living-breathing artist.  I get into the studio 6-days a week and joyfully tackle the practical process of making meaning from the mountain of materials I have at hand.  But I am, as all artists ought to be, endowing the work with a small part of me.  I mean, you can’t help it.  Give three sax players the same tune to embellish with their solos and you’re going to get something that is distinctly “them”.  In that way our art is alive.

Being a “living” thing, process becomes journey, and journey is process.  The work seems to mature as does this artist.  And that’s part of what I love about being an artist; I am always growing because I am always being challenged to make meaning more powerfully, more concisely, and more succinctly.  It’s what theoretical mathematicians call “elegance”.  It’s like enjoying a good glass of Port.  Time has removed much of the water and concentrated the essences, bringing forth a powerful bouquet of aromas and flavors to be enjoyed.

Perhaps that’s why artists who’ve been working at their art for a good many years make it look easy.  Well applied experience brings out a confidence and an ease when working.  Experience also teaches that to remain open to new innovations of expression deeply enriches the work.  Again, process is journey, and journey is process.

I began these Collage Quilt Blocks I make back in 2007/08.  I was seeking a new personal visual art that I could create that was original.  My first works are overdone in many ways; heavy handed, if you will.  But each generation has become lighter, more balanced, and now is taking on entirely new forms of expression.  As I streamline the process of making, there is more room in the work for meaning.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense to you.  But it seems that as I loosen my grip on what I’m doing, and how it gets done, the work itself has more room to breathe and to speak to me.  As I become less heavy-handed, using less brute force to make what I have intended, and instead simply “dance” with the materials, I find the work takes on a life of its own.  Together we become something more than when we began the process.

Journey as process.  Process as journey.  This whole thing; this dance I’m so privileged to take up every working day involves my relationship with God, my attitude toward myself, and a humility in the presence of the creative process Himself.  In the end, it seems, that not only is a work of meaning made, but we are as well.

What have been, or currently are your experiences with the on-going maturation of process and journey in your art practice?

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