Patrizia gave me a wonderful book, entitled A Director Prepares, Seven Essays on Art and Theatre, by Anne Bogart. Although it is for the most part about theatre it is applicable to all forms of art. It resonates deeply in me because my experience in working with various art forms over the years has brought me to understand how, in fact, the underlying principles in all art forms are intertwined.
Each day I end up folding back a corner of a page so that I remind myself to reread it, and I read it slowly in order to savor the ideas. The reading itself produces an ecstatic sensation as it reawakens my own knowing and connects me to a larger sphere where all forms meet, as if they were long lost friends reuniting after an extended separation. One of the ideas that struck me and which I have always believed to be true is the following:
“You cannot hide; your growth as an artist is not separate from your growth as a human being: it is all visible.”
This is as true in visual art as it is in the theatre. The truth is always visible in the work and the viewer will always sense the world behind the forms or images on the surface. Depending on their own development they will know something about your inner landscape, your psychological and spiritual orientation and if you are courageous, generous or tight, clear or confused, etc and finally if you have been true to yourself.
Visual art is a secret language that makes itself known to you as you work. If you try to impose your ideas on it, the meaning will not be clear even to you. Its inherent wisdom wants to awaken you and make itself known through you. It moves in you in deeper ways than psychological analysis can, which is why it is often so terrifying to begin. There is nothing more daunting than standing in front of an empty canvas. Sometimes it takes me all day to begin, and whereas I used to think that I was procrastinating, I now know that whatever I was doing was part of the process. That is why I like to dance before I paint, because it incorporates my body in the process. When I feel my way into the work than I do not leave myself behind.
Under this heading, Anne also says: “It matters how you treat people, how you take responsibility in a crisis, what values you develop, your politics, what you read, how you speak and even which words you choose. You cannot hide.” Again, although she is talking about theatre, I believe this also applies to visual art. Who you are will be visible in the work, and felt by others.