Friday, February 25, 2011

The Frightening Power of a Blank Sheet of Paper

     There it sits, a blank piece of paper.  Taunting.  Daring us.  It seems to sneer, "Defile me with imperfect marks and I'll seek revenge."  You can hear its voice, singing like school kids at the playground..."Na na na na na."  Singing loudly.  We cover our ears, but we still hear it.
     I ask you, why is this so? 
     It is so, isn't it?  A blank piece of paper holds great power over the artist.  Here's my theory.  We tremble in the presence of emptiness.  We tremble from fear.  A void needs to be filled but we have it in our heads that filling emptiness requires perfection.  Who among us is perfect?  What is perfect anyway?  Why do we think this?
      We have it in our heads that the first mark and all succeeding marks we put down must be perfect.  We seem to think all great art began that way.   
     Oh, if we only knew the truth.  All art is built up from nothing, from imperfection, from mistakes, from revision.  It is wiped out, and the artist begins again.  It is corrected and revised and the artist follows a slightly different tact.
     We have been imagining our great piece of art for days, weeks, months, or years.  Now the moment has come and we have to make a decision.  What will be the first mark?  How will I make the picture I want to make?
      This is what I know.  Simply begin.  Paper can be crumpled and tossed.  Paintings can be ripped up or painted over.  Begin, and say, "It's nothing but a blank piece of paper."

Swallow Nest Art Gallery Collection on Etsy