Saturday, March 7, 2015

Figure Painting, Jung, the Subconcious and Emotion

While I enjoy all types of painting and collage, I have to say that figure painting is my favorite.  I'm
not quite sure why artists are so fascinated with the human figure but I guess for me it's the act of creating a piece of art that communicates emotion. Because I've had little training in painting, I don't really know techniques for painting faces with emotion.  Most of my work is to paint, sort of letting my subconscious take over, then stand back and see what the painting is telling me.  I examine it and if I see an emotion, I stop painting.  If I don't feel anything, I keep messing with it, often ruining good eyes or faces and having to start over.  Since I paint with heavy oils, untouched my thinning agents, I end up with heavy layers, not the smartest method to capture such a sensitive subject as emotion.
Here is where my studies in Carl Jung help because he  believed that art, as shown in his Red Book, tapped into his subconscious.  Through a highly transformative and prolific period, he discovered that paintings reveal things the artist isn't aware of at the moment, but which is revealed in the painting.  This happens to me all the time.  Not a professional way to paint utilizing proven techniques but the main reason I paint.
I feel as if Edvard Munch painted this way which is one reason he's one of my favorite artists, along with Modigliani,   Sir Edward-Coley Burne Jones, Waterhouse, and. Dante Gabriel Rossetti  I'm also, to my surprise, coming to respect Pablo Picasso more and more.  I'm not into his cubism much, bur love his blue period for the emotional content as much as his talent. 
The piece I'm working on now, "Diana," an oil on wood 36X18, is one of these, but I'm trying to employ better and new techniques, as well as just painting and allowing it to flow once I'm in the zone.  I don't know if it's going to work or not, since I'm trying out new techniques. I'm not sure if  they'll ruin all the work I've already completed.
My art is not what one would call good art.  My figures are not formed in a realistic or accurate manner and portions are often out of proportion.  However, as Carl Jung discovered in his psychoanalytical practice and in his personal life with his creation of The Red Book, , the creative act of producing art is often an act of the transpersonal, taking the personal aspects of the finished piece and adding to it the universal aspect where it raises an emotional reaction in the viewers.  Often this reaction can't be explained,  but the viewer knows immediately whether they are drawn to a piece of art or are not,  The transpersonal arises from the subconscious of the artist and is in communication and collaboration with the subconscious of the viewer. This is a reason art has such an impact, and
paintings we might not fully understand on a conscious level still touch us emotionally. Jung also believed that creating and viewing art was more than just an aesthetic experience relating to beauty, but rather an important transformational opportunity for both artist and viewer.
The artist go into a zone, allowing what Jung called participation mystique, where the artist lets the ego step out of the way, releasing the inner awareness buried in the subconscious and communicating to the viewer via the symbolism found in the art work,
In the paintings I've included on this blog, I actually set out to try and paint more realistic portraits, but my subconscious was more powerful and I ended up with paintings that are combinations of people I know with emotions, I didn't plan to include.  The first one, "Francois Burgogne" is the combination of an ex-boyfriend, an actor and one of the characters in my novel, Shaman  Circus. The second one, "The Philosopher," is the combination of an artist friend and a famous cellist, the third one, "The White
Queen" was supposed to be a self-portrait but ended not even close and appears to me as both a queen and a motorcyclist.  The symbols at the right, were pieces I elaborated on which seemed to appear in the mixture of colors I used in the background.  I just fleshed them out.
The fourth painting of the woman with red hair on the left is my unfinished piece, "Diana."  I'll be painting more on her this weekend. She is a glorified self portrait as me as a much younger woman and the goddess Diana or Artemis has long been a pivotal figure in my personal mythology.  I actually shot archery in high school and then again when I was in my later thirties and was a pretty good shot, winning some competitions using a recurve bow. I plan to paint her dress today and may include a bow. 
I now consider these types of figures to be interpretations.  They are in no way portraits but rather a view of these people and their influence on my work, from the perspective of how my subconscious views reality. I have my personal interpretation of the emotion they evoke, but prefer to leave the interpretation and experience of those emotions to the viewer and how they view their own reality.
These oil paintings were  completed at different times in the past seven years or so but were still painted in the same type of zone where I lose all awareness of anything but applying paint.  As much as I've tried to focus on techniques I've learned about through reading, You Tube videos or art history, all is overshadowed by what my  rush wants to do as it is driven by my subconscious.

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