The traditional image of artistic creation is of the artist in their studio, working at an easel or walking around a block of material that is going to become a sculpture. Of course, this idea has some truth – there are artists who work just like that. However, it would be a mistake to imagine that this is the only way artists can work. This post is a guest post by Soco Freire, one of Agora Gallery’s talented represented artists, who often works in quite a different way. Her work will be appearing in the collective exhibition at Agora Gallery that begins at the end of November and runs through well into December. The unusual thing about her creative process is that she frequently engages in a process known as ‘live painting’ to create her lively, colorful paintings.
Live painting is where visual art meets performance art. The artist undertakes to create a piece in a public setting, where members of the public are moving around and frequently interacting with the artist. Often it is part of a live event, and is a performance in itself, sometimes with music or commentary to give it more of a stage setting. The idea is that everything from that specific time and place feeds into the work being created, including the comments of the audience. By nature, of course, it involves a level of improvisation. Soco Freire finds that this form of creation has a uniquely satisfying appeal which comes from the sense of exploration involved and the immediate reaction available. Here, she speaks about what drew her to live painting in the first place, and what she loves about it.
Guest post by Soco Freire:
Live painting came naturally to me. It all started when I was invited to participate in an event where I thought it would be great if I could somehow interact with my audience. I had heard about this technique before and I found it to be a perfect way to express myself and create my artwork.
Even before this, I worked mostly with my hands and sponges to create my art pieces, and I found that this technique creates a perfect environment to be explored during live painting events. There’s a tactile aspect to it, and a sense of immediacy, that just matches that kind of event perfectly. I have always been a very spontaneous and lively person. Meeting people, interacting, listening is part of my life and my art. I bring all these things into my artwork. Doing live painting is something that allows me to do what I love and get immediate feedback at the same time.
I have performed this artistic work during “fashion shows” and “meet & greet” social events – in atmospheres where people are mostly at their ease and ready to appreciate new forms of art. It is a very satisfying experience for me and for my audience, as I create my piece inspired by that same place and vibrations and in a state of mind derived from my surroundings. I usually get a bit nervous before I start painting but once I start it all goes away.
The reactions I receive from the audience are many, from curiosity to admiration. Some people will stare and observe and it is almost as if I can sense the energy of their attention and somehow that contributes to that art piece. It’s more challenging than working alone in a studio, and I am somewhat restricted in a live painting. For one thing, I am restricted by media – it needs to be something you can work with fast. Fortunately I have used acrylic paint for a long time, and I have found it to be excellent for live paintings as it dries quickly. I also use many other media, but because of the time factor I must carefully choose my materials.
Time is a serious restriction, and it means that I must think fast. It might take a few minutes to get started because even when I already have something in my mind connected to what I am going to paint, that all can change. Sometimes the idea can come in a split second and then I am free to create. Because of this, I would say that in order to do live painting, you must be fast thinking, and be comfortable and confident about yourself and your abilities and limitations.
My work starts very abstract and only later forms start taking shape. This process intrigues people and it is interesting as you know that your audience is being stimulated artistically by their own emotions, thoughts and feelings as they try to envision your work as it develops.
After I complete a live painting I get people’s immediate reaction to my art and I feel that in a way the experience inspires other people’s creativity at the same time. I know this type of free artwork is very important to me, but it is also challenging as I have to expose myself to my audience and be open with them, and invite them to appreciate art in a different way.
Have you ever taken part in something like live painting? Would you like to? Share your thoughts in the comments!