Morning guys and girls. summer vacation is over and i find myself back at the desk at the studio. Its monday morning. I take a look at the list of deadlines and try to found out where to begin. And my mind wander of to the silent mountains of the Faroe Islands where I spend my summer with the family hiking and searching for birds. the transition between the 2 worlds always makes me reflect on the importance of what i do.
First of all; I never chose to be an artist. Its was never a matter of decisive planing for me. I always liked drawing and painting, but never realized you could do it for a living. So I planned to be a high school teacher and figured I would perhaps draw comic books on the side. At some point it just seemed that I could make a very limited living if I did not spend a lot of money and if I illustrated every job that came along. The breaking point was when I actually was able to pay rent and buy food for a whole month from the fee I was paid and then all of a sudden being an artist, or an illustrator, as we call it here in Denmark, seemed way more fun and way easier than having a real job. Fantasy was my biggest passion and slowly I weeded out the jobs that did not include dragons and goblins until about 5 years later I was: a fantasy-artist.
With every painting I try to ask myself one big question? is this one making you happy? ( happy is such a big word for this, but content or satisfied doesn’t seem to cut it) And I think it is really important to ask yourself that question. Because solving an assignment from an art description can be done in many ways: often you find yourself bewildered in trying to understand what the client want or need. You try to anticipate what the feedback will be if you go this or that direction. The question you ask then, is not what makes you happy but what makes the one who pays you happy. What makes YOU happy? When I ask myself that, the answer is usually: Self expression. Even if I think of myself as a professional illustrator, rather than an artist, the paintings that made most sense to me over the years, was always the ones where I put the most of my own vision in it and where I disregarded large chunks of the art description in order to make room for my own ideas. Or the ones where the assignment called for a personal angle or where I was told: Do it your way. When it comes down to it I paint the paintings for myself first and the client secondly anyways. Those paintings are the ones that I feel carry a bit of myself and are those that the audience seems to react on the most too.
So what doesn’t make me happy? if everything goes well, I get to ask the critical questions in thumb stage and guide myself in the right direction: But sometimes its way too far into the preliminary before I get honest with myself and acknowledge that I did not have my mind in it. I did not add anything. I just did anther soulless piece. If I get that feeling I have taken a wow of starting all over. The process and feeling i get when I succeed in creating a painting or illustration that has meaning for me contra one that doesn’t, is tremendous. continuing on a painting that doesn’t have anything personal or soulful meaning to me is a waist of time: And in the end waist of life. It takes three days for me to do a painting like a magic card illustration. If I am not creating a meaningful piece its a 3 days meaningless ass-sitting with bend back and no result other than self-loathing to show for it…harsh words but drawing up the lines helps.
What this thinking does to me is that I constantly ask myself questions while drawing. Could I try something new here? A better pose, a different angle, an expression I haven’t done before. Its a matter of constantly having my mind being critical of it self, asking the questions that needs answers and being willing to take the punches when the only real answer is: Starting all over.
I paint because it allows me to express myself. It allows me to put a tiny flat colorfull fingerprint on the world and leave proof of my existence. If you start thinking like that, you will never want to leave a mediocre print.
So Jesper: “Chin up! sharpen the pencil and lets get personal.
Here is a sample of paintings where my own vision or idea carried through and where I felt i added something of myself.