Newton’s Third Law of Motion

I’ve been thinking a lot about forces – things in my life that appear to be pushing or pulling me.  I can’t really figure out when to push back, when to resist, and when to succumb to the pressure.  It’s both a creative and a personal dilemma.  As often happens, my artwork seems to be the place where these struggles play out.

The creative dilemma goes like this: My work has evolved such that I now have to spend many, many hours making precise shapes and lines and thousands of tiny marks over the initial chaotic shapes I create. It is tedious and slow work, and there is almost no joy in it – except the joy of seeing the intricacy of the final piece.  What I love about making art is playing with chance, letting things happen, immediacy, acting on “instinct”, serendipity.  Not giving my mind time to interfere.  But, inevitably, when I work this way, I look at my paintings and think they need structure; something deliberate that gives them shape and holds them together.  Hence the lines and dots and shapes.  I feel pressure to create order, and a simultaneous pull toward chaos.  The painting below is in progress, but pretty much sums up how I feel.  In my head it is titled “Tangled Bird of Prey, Dying”.  I’ve never been one to shy away from melodrama 😉

This leads me to consider Newton’s third law of motion: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Is it preferable to find a balance between unrestrained, chaotic mark-making whose movement is outward and explosive, and precise, deliberate scaffold-building whose movement is inward and toward containment?  If making these structures is mind-numbingly boring and I feel a huge resistance toward it, should I desist, or work through it, like a runner getting past “the wall”?  There is a force within me urging me to stop, and another urging me to continue.  Is Newton’s third law of motion describing an impasse?  In which case, shouldn’t it be avoided if progress is to be made?  I guess it depends on the story I choose to tell myself.  Either, my inner child is pushing me to cut loose and she’s the one who drives me to make art in the first place so I better listen, or, art requires work, discipline and surrender and the uncomfortable stuff is probably the stuff I most need to learn so get on with it and stop whining.

Structure beginning to appear out of chaos (work in progress).

Thousands of dots emanating from a chaotic spill – the movement outward loses momentum and dissipates (work in progress).

Trying to avoid the issue all together, I ended up making sculptures last week 🙂

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