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Out on a Limb

November 27, 2013

Many, many years ago I read a book by Shirley MacClaine called Out on a Limb.  What I remember from the book is her willingness to set herself free….free from conventional thought, free from past habits, and free from her previous story line.  I also remember  her undaunting  commitment to process.  Small bits of wisdom gained from the reading of that book are with me yet today.  I do realize that on a whole that book was panned but for me, it set the stage, for a life less ordinary.  To many, my life probably looks, well…. very ordinary but just the fact that I practice art as my profession, says ‘it ain’t so’.  What Ms MacClaine’s book gave me was the ‘permission’ to eat, think and live, outside of the box.  I owe her for that.  With each day that passes, I appear to be further out on that limb.  I am trying to resolve in my mind just how far I can go before the proverbial limb breaks.

This has been quite the fall and for this reason, I have been keeping my thoughts largely to myself.  I have a feeling that has to change….crawling further out, nearly at the limbs end….  I have had a great fall of painting, painting sales, art shows, studio tours, awards and travel but somehow that is not enough.  I tried to shake things up a bit by writing poetry for my new paintings.  I have never, ever written poetry before….remember if you will, I am not the writer in the family.  Well, the poems were such a hit that I sold a few paintings because of them!  I thought the poems were revealing my soul and wasn’t sure I was up for that but I soon came to realize that others were.  These poems are tentative but they are a beginning and they are helping me to see things in new light.

As artists we are constantly struggling with and working towards a freshness in our work.  This is indeed a challenge like no other as those galleries that represent us and those wonderful clients that continue to support us, want a recognizable piece of art.  They want to be able to look at a painting and say, “This is a Carolynn Doan”,  with absolute certainty.  But, where does that leave the artist?  ….clinging to the trunk.  I do understand this need but also realize how creativity suffers for that fact.  I can think of a few artists that were brave enough to change direction in their work, Lawren Harris being notable.  I also can think of great thinkers and artists of the past that were not content with painting alone but were sculptures, writers and mathematicians.  There is room for expansion and innovation in all walks of life and art is and must not be, an exception.  The creative  mind seeks no limits, no boundaries.

I have recently been asked to submit for representation in a gallery in the US.  I am wondering how flexible they will be?  Will my creativity be embraced or limited?

…..inching further out the limb….

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2013 8:51 pm

    I read Shirley’s book years ago. I might not have agreed with all her theories but I did agree with her desire to reach beyond the norm and seek out knowledge from imaginative sources. As I was reading your post Picasso came to mind and how he veered away from the familiar and tradition. I think if you love what you create it will be accepted and if it isn’t … you’ve managed to have a lot of fun!

  2. November 27, 2013 9:15 pm

    This is great. Thanks for sharing and keep inching out.

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