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  • Stuart Simler

Philosphers Furrow

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Intensely thinking or simply a result of over-consideration?

This is an interesting subject matter regarding the arts and being an artist or a creative thinker. As a teenager I remember thinking with high frequency and intensity, questioning the reality of the world around me and subsequently how I felt about these observations and pretty much everything else I could think of. As I transitioned through life and my career into the art world, mentoring and as a teacher I noticed the same patterns as I did when I was a student on my BA Hons, and that was the range of characteristics displayed by each of my course peers when it came to our own unique independent practices. Who arrived at the studio space and at what time, how long they work for, and when I say work, I mean productively input into the development of their ideas and enquiries, be this research or practical.

Myself, I found much of my time at Uni spent in front of large canvases, coffee in hand…hours passing over the course of the day while I pondered and pontificated greater meaning, followed by a healthy appetite for even greater questioning. I felt like a lazy painter but during these moments of deep contemplation I realise that this was part of my process; a long period of self questioning and aesthetic conundrums, followed by a crescendo of cascading activity, when I would leap into action. Bringing physicality to my application of carved interpretations I would work intensely for shorter periods until I had fully exhausted my creative output for the time being. As I progressed and allowed the variations of my creative ebbing and flowing to find a consistency, I found my feet and arrived at the centre point of my final year where I was fully engaged in my own practice. I knew when to allow those moments of self reflection and staring with coffee in hand and when to stay and grind it out, take some practical risks to find out if they worked or not… and then repeat. This took me through the week, every week until I had a body of work that sat well with me and communicated what I had envisaged whilst on my journey. This was my creative process and one that has proved difficult to return to since, due to the transition into my adult life as an artist, father, employee and now co-founder with my wife of our own creative business. I still sometimes wear the overall of the frustrated artist but this is more likely to do with the fact that I wish I still had time to ‘be’ the artist.

Teaching art classes now, especially with adults, I notice a sense of questioning amongst students that reminds me of those earlier years and if I were to talk to my younger self, I wonder; would I recommend the philosophers furrow or offer an alternative approach?

Questioning our artwork is definitely a good thing to do in moderation, more important though, is to take the time to stand back and give ourselves a well meant pat on the back, find the successes first and then look for what we can improve on. The journey of an artist or creative mind is to question…problem solve and be open to what we might find on the way.

Happy exploring everyone.


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