I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they exist that is. In short, I allow faults to appear, the better to fix my sensations.
–Claude Monet, 1912
I have had this little sign hanging in my studio for the last 16 years or so, a rough reminder to myself when I begin to feel like my work is bending to the rules and judgments of others. It reminds me that I am working in my own realm, my world. I control the parameters of what is possible, of what defines reality in my work. The rules of others mean nothing in my little painted world.
Over the years I have glimpsed this small sign at times when I have been feeling that my work is stagnating or beginning to adhere to accepted conventions and have been spurred to push my work in some new direction. Heightening the intensity of color or introducing new hues that seems incompatible with nature, for example. It’s as though these two words are prods that constantly tell me that nobody can control me when I am here in my created world. There’s a great liberation in this realization and I find myself trusting my own judgment of my work more and more. Because I have created my own criteria for its reality, criticism from others means little now.
I think that’s what I am trying to get at here, that an artist must fully believe that they are the sole voice of authority in their work, that they, not others, determine its validity. Maybe that’s why I am so drawn to Outsider artists, those untrained artists who maintain this firm belief in their personal vision and create a personal inner world of art in which it can live and prosper. Rules mean nothing to them- only the expression of their inner self matters .