That One In A Million Work Of Art

Christine Alfery

Posted on September 15 2020

That One In A Million Work Of Art
Featured Painting: "Telling the Story" by Christine Alfery, Water media on paper, 30 x 40


"when I see freedom explode in a work – when I see it become a thing in itself – I stand back in wonder. I know it is a one in a million work of art.”


Two ideas inspire and challenge me to paint every day: freedom and individuality. If I can’t find these two ideas – in myself, in my hand, in the uniqueness of my work – then an artwork is not successful for me.

What do I mean by freedom? Freedom needs to be as open as a child’s mind when they are choosing a color from a box of 100 different crayons. Freedom is filled with the endless possibilities of that color - a cow could be colored green, or a person could be colored orange and purple. Freedom asks nothing of the green cow, freedom expects nothing from the orange and purple person, and freedom does not depend on judgement for value.


 

As adults, we understand that wanting to feel safe and secure is part of human nature, so complete freedom can feel scary and dangerous. It is understandable why many choose security over freedom – the safety of what has been done before, the security and protection of another. But seeking the security of how someone else has done it, rather than learning to find your own voice, is destructive to artistic freedom.As adults, we understand that wanting to feel safe and secure is part of human nature, so complete freedom can feel scary and dangerous. It is understandable why many choose security over freedom – the safety of what has been done before, the security and protection of another. But seeking the security of how someone else has done it, rather than learning to find your own voice, is destructive to artistic freedom.


 


 

The freedom I seek when creating art – be it making a mark or choosing a color – does not take shelter in what has been done before.  The freedom I seek can never be a small cog in a well-oiled machine. Discovery, exploration, creativity only happen when my soul is free – when my marks and colors are free. 

It is no easy task to deny the sanctuary of the familiar and rather seek the vulnerability of complete open freedom. I have been an artist for over 50 years, yet I still find myself anxious as I approach a white sheet of paper – afraid to make the first mark. What am I afraid of? What causes this anxiety? For me, I am always afraid the work won’t be as free as I want it to be.


 

So I dig in.

Sometimes my fears come true and the work is too tight, too controlled, not free. So I keep trying. For a work to be free it must stand alone. It must be independent of me, yet I am in the work. I would say 1 out of 20 works accomplish my goal. Those are the works that easily become my favorites.   

Freedom is hard to find, hard to keep - it doesn’t just happen. The will to control the work is strong. The will to control makes the work safe. So when I see freedom explode in a work – when I see it become a thing in itself – I stand back in wonder. I know it is a one in a million piece.

More Posts