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More thoughts on changing directions in your work

The other evening, I went to the opening of Will Gorlitz's exhibition at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Ontario. Gorlitz is a Professor in the Studio Art Program in the Department of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph and a veteran Canadian figurative painter who "sets out to unsettle our vision", says Richard Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art magazine. See a brief video tour of a 2008 Gorlitz exhibition.

I found it interesting to hear him talk briefly about his work at the opening. In my last couple of blog posts, I wrote some thoughts about changing directions in my artwork and asked how to recognize when we need to change directions or how to stay true to our own intuition. Will mentioned that when he graduated from art college, that he had noticed how it seemed an important thing for an artist to find their path and to stick with it. He decided right then to challenge that 'convention', and try to make many different bodies of work.

When this retrospective was offered to him, he said that he wondered how they would hang so many different bodies of work. But after the show was hung and he stood looking at it, he realized that there was a connection between the various works.

It makes me wonder if we have a certain mark or way of making artwork that is ours, even if the bodies of work seem unconnected. And looking back at our work over time, if we simply make art long enough, do the connections become more apparent?


  1. Hi Janice,
    All week I’ve been thinking of your last 2 posts. The timing is uncanny; I’ve just read a post by Keith bond, about jumping train.
    You might enjoy it as well.
    I also paint in themes. Mine has been about trees, the woody parts, such as bare branches, roots and tree trunks. Why do I paint that particular theme? Because I’m constantly drawn to them; Not only do I like them visually, but in them I find symbolic meanings, like parables. I admit that other motifs also want to emerge within my series, and I’m eager to introduce them, and see where my work will take me.
    I’ve jumped from themes to themes before, but it made my work look disconnected. For now, at this point of my journey I rather ease from one thing to another, by combining metaphors. I believe eventually this route will lead me to new series. I'm curious to see what they may be, but for now, I'm not in a hurry.

  2. HI Anne,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Do you think it's possible to hurry an idea?...mine seem to come in their own sweet time.

  3. I think that sometimes when making 'new work' there is suddenly a sense of deja vu. Most of my work is abstract but still I find the same marks and shapes recurring and when this happens I feel that I am making strong works.
    As to hurrying an idea, I am guilty. I often jump in boots and all and, for me, it doesn't work. It tends to happen when I am feeling that what I am doing is not exciting. I think it's a sign of immaturity and wish I didn't do it as I always look back at it as time wasted.


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