Today’s post and featured artist is about process. Recently I’ve been hyper-focused on routines and how sometimes those routines fail us, leaving us caught in a terrible rut. When I find myself stuck, I try to make one small change in my daily routine. It may be a change of direction in my daily walks or finding a new place to write.
With my recent move to North Carolina my writing process has been completely upended. Where I write plays a significant role in how I write and that process of finding my new groove feels like a turntable playing the end of the last song on a record. The needle on the record spins but there’s no music left to play; there’s just a faint hum of static.
Catching myself suspended in writer’s block is a frightening sensation that conjures up a slew of existential emotions. So I tried to combat that fear by thinking about the ways I could jumpstart a new process and find a new record to play.
This is why today’s artist is important to me. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s portraits stand out to me for two very important reasons that lie at the core of her unique story as an artist. She doesn’t use models to sit for her, rather she paints her portraits from her mind’s eye, conjuring up subjects as they come to her. She also ambitiously completes her paintings within a single day. This means no revisions, no second guesses, and no alterations. There’s something liberating in allowing a specific moment in time to guide your process. The simplicity of her chosen color palettes and shapes are devoid of superfluous detail, which allows the emotive qualities of her subjects to shine. She invites viewers into their lives without narrative, giving the viewer freedom to imagine their individual stories.
So when I recently found myself in this writing stasis, I studied the artist’s work, imagining the individual stories of some of the subjects she painted in her portraits. Those character sketches drew from my memories of the past and the present. It gave me a deeper appreciation for her work and it offered me a much needed catharsis to refine my own creative process.
Every February I reset my writing process through this personal Artist a Day challenge. Some years I schedule out posts in advance while in others I let the day dictate who and what I write about. Sharing that process of learning with readers brings me joy beyond measure.
On Friday, I serendipitously saw the painting I’m featuring here today. I was in Durham on an assignment and stopped into the 21C Museum Hotel where they just opened their latest exhibit, The Future is Female. To see the works of so many women artists that I admire, felt like walking into a room filled with old friends. Seeing this piece by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye came to me right on time (literally), and I couldn’t wait to share today.
Happy Monday, I hope you find something or someone today that inspires you and your process!