Travel, throughout the history of art, has always been meaningful to artists. Off the top of my head, I can not think of any who did not travel. Study and exploration of our art is always a part of our artistic story. Picasso said, “We paint to teach ourselves to paint. If we knew what a painting was going to look like in the end, we would have no need to paint it.”
This weekend, I travel back to a place that’s been extremely meaningful to me in my life as an artist: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I’m not on vacation … I’m on an artistic journey.
In 2005, I spent a summer studying art in Mexico, and it changed me as a painter. It was an amazing time; I could truly dive into the art, sun up to sun down. I wrote poems about art, read art books and copied down all the quotes that I found meaning in. My teachers in Mexico encouraged me not to paint what I saw but to paint what I feel. That was huge, and to this day the bright colors, strong brush work, and boldness of imagery resonates with me, and shows in my work. It was how I wanted to paint and in Mexico I found the ‘permission’ to paint how I wanted to and the guides to help strengthen my craft.
It is the goal of an artist to have freedom in their work, a unique sense of how deeply personal a experience is — whether it be a person, place, or emotion — then to freely express that in my interaction with the art. There are people who think realism is the mark of a great artist. I disagree: It is the mark of a great renderer, but creativity is more personal, and it is far more difficult for most artists to abstract.
As I return to Mexico — which, in many ways, was where it began for me as an artist, as I had my first show after I returned from that trip — I will be focusing on freedom in my work and making it as deeply personal as I can.
I invite you all to come along. You can join my adventures in Mexico virtually through this blog and via my Facebook page by clicking here.