Tom Dimock: Work & Art & Plein Air
Do [not] Disturb
Leave me alone to do my art—and leave cash on the table on your way out.
Who doesn’t imagine free hours to focus on your art or craft?
I’ve been trying to connect with a local filmmaker to chat about how she balances art and commerce. She’s already hinted once that “Commerce wins.” And though she says that, the truth is that she keeps producing her own films, which screen locally and nationally.
At the recent Art Attack at the (ginormously huge) Northrup King Building in northeast Minneapolis I ran into painter Tom Dimock. His painting of Red Wing’s Barn bluff caught my attention—so much so I had to show it to Mrs. Kirkistan as well (making it “remarkable”). In particular, Mr. Dimock had two versions of the painting: one done outside in cool Minnesota air (plein air), one done as a re-creation from a photo. Here’s the plein air version:
As much as we want to be free to practice our art: free of financial concerns, free of time constraints, free of any obligations, I rather think all those little tugs at our consciousness find their way into the art itself. To me, Mr. Dimock’s plein air version has a different feel than the painting produced from a photo (not pictured).
All of this to hint that waiting for enough time or enough inspiration to practice our craft or art is a fool’s wager. Instead there must be something of the plein air to our craft: doing it when we can. Practicing in whatever bits of open time we find, even out in the open. I routinely wedge bits of writing between work assignments . Big expanses of time are rare and unless I am practiced at my craft I’ll just waste time on everything but the work itself.
Plein air suggests the things we create are built more realistically in the moment, right in the context of everyday life, rather than separated and isolated. Things built in the moment, out in amidst the chaos may also yield a more true light, which is one of the keys to authenticity, whether in painting or writing or photography. It’s not hard to start applying plein air to lots of life’s bits and pieces.
Maybe plein air is the difference between what we used to call ivory tower thinking and boots on the street action (if you’ll excuse my badly mixed metaphors). Maybe that is why some of the books on my shelf go unread because they are so detached from real life while others drop me in the thick of human interaction time and again (Ian McEwen’s Atonement is doing that for me recently, as is John’s gospel).
How do you manage to practice your craft?
Image credit: www.dimockart.com