[VIEWPOINT]Colors, charcoal and rejection

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[VIEWPOINT]Colors, charcoal and rejection

I once made up my mind to keep creating the same painting until I died. I once lived that way, putting my decision into practice. Drawing pictures day by day, like everyday life, was no easy job for me. Constantly drawing paintings as if decades were just a day was a tough job to me.
Along the way, I have made many kinds of resolutions and invented all kinds of tricks to entice myself not to become lazy. Many times, inspiration failed to dawn on me like a flash or I found I had no desire to draw a particular subject. Should I just be idle, then? No, not at all. Idleness will never make me a professional artist. A professional should create art every day.
So, even if no idea occurred to me, I entered my studio without fail every day and sat facing the empty canvas. And then I began to draw irises. I posted a note on the wall to tell myself, “Draw irises when you have no ideas, and keep drawing irises until you die.” So, on days when I had no ideas, I just began to draw irises. After doing that for a week, I surprised myself. All the paintings I drew during the week had different feelings. All were beautiful in their own way.
I told myself that drawing without preconceptions was always a good thing for an artist. I said to myself, “Never argue about inspiration or something and begin to draw without conditions.” Others say that I always work constantly, like a train running on its rails. If so, am I not a human? I also have a hard time every morning: I feel like goofing off, taking a rest or going out for a walk in a beautiful forest.
I saw great artists close to me pass away. “If I were given just a year more, I’d like to do nothing but draw pictures and then die,” they said on their deathbeds. I was very sad for them, and I imagined myself dying. When I thought of myself dying in tears, anxious to draw more, it was never a pleasant thing to walk in a forest in the daytime without drawing. So I always stayed at home and drew pictures.
Still, it is not easy to get started every morning. I am hesitant to enter my studio. So I decided to use a method to entice myself. It was to make a mess of the empty canvas with colors I abhor, having put things in order after finishing my work in the evening. I go to bed after applying brown colors randomly here and there.
When I get up, I go to my studio first thing in the morning and see the painting I was working on yesterday and then the jumbled canvas of brown colors. The colors are so detestable that I begin to be lost in painting, forgetting to take meals. My work, then, just takes its course. This method was effective. I lived and lured myself to paint in this way.
But then my arm began to hurt and my shoulder froze. My arm hurt so much so that I could not paint, so I began to draw on the computer. My arm got better. My attitude toward painting has changed. The computer gives me the color I want in a second. So I draw using brilliant colors abundantly with great ease. Perhaps because my hunger for color was gone, an oil painting in white and black alone was born.
I sent the painting to a large exhibition last year, but the space given to me was withdrawn and only two works of mine were on display. I went to the exhibition with more than 40 paintings but only two were hung and I was kicked out. In the fall of the same year, another art gallery owner planned a big exhibition. I drew charcoal drawings with zeal. I drew them on canvases nearly five-feet square. My acquaintances tried to dissuade me, saying that charcoal would enter my lungs and ruin my health. They asked why I volunteered to take such risks instead of just living comfortably. When I did not listen to them, they bought face masks for me.
Then in late spring, the art gallery owner came to my studio to check how my paintings were coming along. He saw my charcoal paintings and cancelled their exhibition.
Why do people hate paintings in white and black so much? I love them so much that I think I will just keep on drawing them.

* The writer is a painter. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


by Kim Jom-son
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