Saturday, March 12, 2011

Painting - Process - Ben Reeves

I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity and privilege of hearing Ben Reeves give a presentation about his work and art practice. As well having the chance to meet with him individually prior to this in my studio space and then in the class room setting I was able to really get to dig a well spring of information gaining a deeper understanding of his thoughts, ideas about art, skill and painting. There was a great deal to glean from him and I have to say this has been the most beneficial experience for me as an artist and as a painter and I learned so much from his visit.
My first meeting with Ben Reeves was in my studio space and we talked about the importance of process in particular how this related to painting. Being preoccupied with the end result as opposed to the process results in work no longer enjoyable as a creative experience.

I shared that I was more interested presently in mark making and process, and how egg tempera, as it is like drawing with paint very much lends itself to this process. Painting is a direct record of mark making, he stated during his class visit and was reaffirmed again during his presentation at the Owens Gallery.

This mark making process is for me also about having a mindfulness of the moment during the creative process which invites the viewer into the process. Ben questions the expectation of always explaining the meaning in art work, but it is more about looking.

Our class room session was very enlightening and I am so glad I took notes. This is information I don't want to ever forget. The reference to Dianne Petherbridge's book, Meditations On A Dirty Word, was compelling and provided a great overview and analysis of skill and de-skilling and how this pertains to art and teaching art. I was excited to explore ideas about skill and how the biggest part of skill is in looking, the relationship between ourselves and others, our relationship to the material, to the world and our environment.

Here is a list of some thought provoking questions and ideas that were presented and discussed in our class during his visit.

What is meant by the essence of painting?
Are we making images or is the image making us?
Skill on demand
The shift in trends
Teaching of skills being too deterministic
Thinking through process
Utilization of ideas
Knowing our world in terms of our bodies
Invitation by the artist to look
How technology has sped things up and, shifted our sense of scale and time
The artist and art is not separate from the world
Painting being a slowed down process, having a relationship to the body and human scale, space, duration and time
Bringing a painting into a realm that it doesn't belong

What I especially appreciate about Ben Reeves and his art practice is his involvement in the language of representation and process which both work together in a kind of relational balance. He strives to enable the viewer the opportunity to accept the artist's invitation, to look and hopefully participate in a dialog about art and the creative process. Painting is about process, looking, language, and exchange of communication and engagement with the viewer. I think Ben Reeves is very much involved in this process and it is what empowers his art and him as an artist.

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