Transcending Technique: Art as a Spiritual Dance – Day 96

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 96 of the 365 Days Project is by Cathy Locke.]

Painting of a woman by Cathy Locke
“My Disappearing Landscape” by Cathy Locke. Photo courtesy ©Cathy Locke.

Technique is important to solid creative endeavors. But there’s more to art than technique…

#96 – Technique lays the groundwork for the eventual dance with the creative muse.

One of my earliest recollections as an artist was my frustration with getting the artwork I produced to generate the feeling I wanted to express. Even at a very young age, I realized that simply copying what I observed wouldn’t necessarily imbue my work with the emotional impact I wanted to convey.

Cathy Locke is a seasoned painter whose artistic journey eloquently portrays how she broke down the wall between technique and emotion and, at the same time, radically changed the way she creates her art.

“When you are trying to build your skills as a painter in the terms of technique, the path is pretty clear,” said Locke. “You judge your work in terms of technique, and it is visually very easy to see how good your work has turned out.” Locke studied with a variety of instructors for many years, honing her technique, yet becoming increasingly frustrated. “The ratio of getting better was not equating to getting happier with my work. The better my technical skill got the more unhappy I got with the art.”

Then Cathy Locke went to Russia.

“While studying art in Russia, I experienced a paradigm shift from physical to emotional painting,” explained Locke. “I stood in front of paintings that I’d never seen before. Since I had no intellectual data for these paintings, I wasn’t able to analyze them from the thinking part of my brain. Instead, for the first time, I read the paintings by feeling them, changing the whole way I now go about creating art.”

Painting of a couple by Cathy Locke
“Their Falling Landscape” by Cathy Locke. Photo courtesy ©Cathy Locke.

“When I was technique-focused I would carefully hover over a canvas for hours on end. Changing my focus to be emotionally-based, I find I explode with energy all over my studio. I seem to fill up my large beautiful studio space now, whereas before I physically felt crammed into a corner.”

“When the energy inside of me starts to drop, I stop painting. Before, I used to just paint and paint and paint. Now I find I am in the studio a lot fewer hours. When I enter my studio I create a bubble as if it were completely isolated from any concern or worry. Then I begin what I call a spiritual dance. My painting process has become much like being an orchestra conductor of energy and movement. Which means I have to feel it or there is no painting that day.”

Although that might sound like the antithesis to running a business, it’s definitely the way to create deep, meaningful work. And that’s precisely what makes the work that artists do all the more valuable to the world.

Abstract painting by Cathy Locke
“Texture 11” by Cathy Locke. Photo courtesy ©Cathy Locke.

Cathy Locke’s artwork can be viewed at: Cathy Locke

Description of the images included in this post:
My Disappearing Landscape
Cathy Locke, California
Mixed media on panel

Their Falling Landscape
Cathy Locke, California
Pastel on wallis paper

Texture 11
Cathy Locke, California
Oil and cold wax

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

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