The hardest part of any creative endeavor is usually figuring out where to start. When painting, the beginning, or first layer of the piece, is rarely seen. For me the best way to start a painting is really by just diving in. Writing is much different…it leaves much less coverage for the artist to hide behind. The editing occurs in my paintings with layering, in writing the beauty generates from an economy of words…saying more with less.
Let me start by introducing myself, my name is Steven Michael O’Connor and I’m a Los Angeles based visual artist. The ‘bio’ tab on this site will provide you with more of the details about my life and career if you are interested. My goal with this blog is to provide previous clients, current fans, and constant supporters of my artwork a chance to catch a glimpse inside my paintings.
Ironically, writing about my own artwork has always felt like a daunting task. Even though incorporating text into my art is a technique that I use often. I’ve never had a problem verbally explaining the motivations behind my paintings; in fact that side of this business has always been very rewarding and insightful. The experience revealed aspects of my work that I myself wasn’t always aware of. To a certain degree art should be grasped immediately, and if it can’t be then the aesthetic experience should at least resonate with the viewer. The experience is only truly visceral when the aesthetics melt with a message eliciting an immediate response. I personally enjoy the ambiguity painting provides, but if too much time passes without the viewer picking up the piece’s meaning then, I’m not accomplishing my goal. Of course there are outliers, those highly personal pieces that are not meant for to get. To bring this back around, writing is the best way to convey a direct message, or to throw the viewer off the scent.
Writing is required at every stage of this game, right down to the titling of my pieces. Staying verbally creative is paramount…it allows me to bring you, right to me. Allow me to explain. It is the day before Halloween in Burbank, California. It is dark outside, in a way that only happens this time of year. Its like the ‘magic hour’ loses all of its reds and pinks, washing everything in a vivid blue tint before the sky goes completely dark. I’m old school, so I’m physically writing all of this into my sketchbook, while balanced back on a wooden chair in my studio. Parts of my clothes are still wet with paint from the days work, probably drying directly to the chair that’s underneath me. I’m in my studio, which is still warm from the Southern California October sunshine, but cooling off at a noticeable pace…a pace that only a valley desert can provide. It smells mainly of stale coffee and spilled paint thinner with an ever present fragrance that I can only describe as “grandparents’ garage.” The space is dimly lit for an art studio, and peacefully quiet except for a constant rattling caused by a box fan balanced in defiance of gravity on a pair of empty paint buckets. The old fan is dusty and overworked, but somehow still effectively pulling cool autumn air from underneath the crack in the studio door and pushing the remaining paint & sawdust laced atmosphere underneath the worktables. The only other noise comes from the neighborhood children who can be just faintly heard playing in the driveway just outside the studio. I’m here writing, and with that…now you are here with me. That’s the power of writing. I’ve documented my experience and hopefully painted you a verbal picture of my setting. I love the detailed point of reference that you receive. The idea that you the reader, you will absorb the information that I’ve given you and then fill in the blanks with your emotional experiences to complete the process is truly fascinating to the painter side of me.
Writing is powerful tool for assisting your imagination. It can be done just about anywhere without a bunch of supplies. Painting, on the other hand, well that is my preferred vehicle of expression because there is a physicality required that most forms of communication just plain lack. Writing can be done anywhere, but as the title of this blog suggests it is very difficult for me to start writing. That internal conflict does not exist inside myself with painting.
Recently it became apparent to me that in order for my website to be successful, I was going to have to put more into it. I was perfectly happy with my last website (www.opticalcomposition.com) it certainly served its purpose of walking my clients through images of my past work with occasional verbal context attached. However things have changed. The paradigm seems to have shifted to keeping my viewers and clients more involved with my creative process. Explaining my motives and upcoming events in real time. Since my business is thriving at a time when so many are closing…I needed to embrace that shift. I know the worst thing that I could do right now is get complacent, so its time for me to give something back. Tonight I’ve put down my paintbrush and picking up my pen.
I know it sounds cliché, but my goal with this new website is to give something back. I want to provide a modern, more in-depth look into my art and which direction its heading. Hopefully I will be learning something about myself along the way. My goal is to every couple of weeks pick a topic, such as sketching, Photoshop or like tonight’s topic of getting started…isn’t it ironic that I started that topic and couldn’t see it through. Oh well this is my first real bog, cut me some slack…Since this is the first blog on the new site maybe it’s just more about beginnings.
If you enjoy what I written then I’d ask that you sign up to follow my blog. Please follow along and if you happen to be a writer and blogger then feel free to send me a link so I can embrace the wave of shared ideas/likeminded individuals that the internet and more specifically social medias are providing all while ignoring the unnecessary self-validation. We are looking toward an exchange of ideas in this digital landscape. Getting started…really can be the hardest part.
Steven Michael O’Connor