Balance is Key …. right?

“This is not a creative therapy session! You are at art academy, get serious or go home!”

I can still hear my teacher yelling in my mind sometimes, when I’m at work. Hearing him shout this through the classroom when I was 21, made a big impression on me at the time, and it wasn’t because he was loud. They were all loud and dominant. It was because, even though I didn’t fully understand what he said back then, I did sense that it was important. To me.

I don’t know about art academies in general, but mine was a friendly lunatic asylum, full of sensitive, creative people with traumas, many different sexualities and personality disorders. But despite our differences and issues, we worked! I have never experienced such a force of creative creation. It was magical. And I thrived under those circumstances.

What my teacher wanted to say was, I think, that every artwork needs to be in balance, also when it comes to emotions and matters of the mind. He figured that only then an artwork would be interesting. I myself, tend to agree, but I keep room for exceptions. Sometimes artists know how to break the ‘rules’ so sublimely, that they get away with it. (And that is a part of our job!)

But at my art academy, many junior students didn’t make the end of the first year, because they thought their interesting inner world would get them through all the exams. That as long as you depicted pain and suffering, the teacher would find you an intellectual wonder. The opposite was true, because they soon found out that there was more to it than that. The word ‘concept’ soon arrived on the scene and it wasn’t welcome to some. That is where the mind came in! Many students dropped out that first year, but the hard core remained.

However, now that I have organised and categorised my own work, so that I could add them to my website, it did occur to me that it is dead obvious that the way I felt while making the artwork, shows! Tadaaah! No matter what subject I did. But how could it not! The artworks come from me, I am their creator and since I do not adapt my work to a general audience, in order to make more money, they show you who I am. Are they out of balance? You tell me. I don’t think so! But….. sometimes being out of balance is a part of being in balance. And perhaps that especially goes for artists, who generally are much more sensitive to what happens around them. Is balance always important in my work? Or does is cause sterility? I am not so sure anymore now.

As an illustration: three examples. The first three were made during times of anxiety that often caused me hyperventilation. Are you surprised? No, me neither…

These three were made while being happy and in love. No surprise there either! I am an open book, I see!

And the last three clearly show that I felt threatened. The world at the time was a bit too much for me to handle.

Conclusion of this story….. I used to be sure my teacher was always right. But not anymore. My opinion on the matter isn’t fixed. But perhaps that is alright. I am curious to hear your opinion. Please don’t hesitate to add it in the comments.

Eva Mout

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2 thoughts on “Balance is Key …. right?

  1. I went to a strict art academy. The teachers didn’t want to see our life turmoil on the canvas. They told us. “Don’t clean the cobwebs out of your brain onto the canvas, no one wants to see that. ” The critiques were brutal and 1/3 of the students quit in the first year. They forced us to draw and paint like the old masters. I rebelled, but finished the 3 year course. It was a trade school, not a university. Now that I’m older I paint whatever I want to. So I’m glad I learned the “rules” back then because now I can break the rules more effectively. Artists don’t really need to know the rules to be successful but if you were part of the academy you have more fun rebelling against it. And not many artists alive today were forced into the discipline of the academy, so I got lucky because it was the only art school that accepted anyone even if you were bad in high school. If I was a good student I’d might have had a real money making career.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, it is like hearing myself! I guess we grew up! And yes, breaking the rules we needed to have i. The first place, might be the most important thing of all!
      Thank you for this!

      Liked by 2 people

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