The Automatic Process is just one of many methods of creating a painting (or any work of art). But it’s the method I most commonly prefer, primarily because it allows the artist to tap into his/her subconsciousness, oftentimes with surprising results, as artwork that isn’t planned so much as it just happens.

Insatiable

“Insatiable” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Although I also work from fully visualized concepts that are sketched out and systematically executed, my opinion is that The Automatic Process (with practice) can be more genuinely expressive and revealing; not entirely explicit of the artist’s presumed comprehension of the subject, which can be unavoidably subjective, but of the artist’s unacknowledged (or unrealized) aversions, preferences, and innate tendencies toward that subject, which perhaps arrive at a closer proximity to objectivity (without the filters of reason). It is a technique that liberates what is normally suppressed by our conditioning (reflexively) and self-censorship (voluntarily), animating that mysterious source within each of us that never sleeps; that which I deliberately refer to it as the Subconscious part of the mind, rather than the Unconscious, because to actively utilize its wealth is to awaken its potential.

It might seem ridiculous to think that such a source can be harvested. However, just like learning a new language, a new skill, or improving one’s memory, tapping into one’s subconsciousness is an acquired ability that can be harnessed through practice, a function that isn’t quite as abstract as one might think. In fact, The Automatic Process is more accurately about allowing one’s self to be vulnerable, admitting (to ourselves, at very least) that we don’t always know why we feel certain ways. It’s about letting go of our imaginary controls, to make room for revelation. And it’s about purposefully encountering our innermost (which is indelible and vast); a frightening proposition, I know, but a journey well worth endeavoring.

Catalog: 1992 - Mar, 2011

“Undertow” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

From Freud to Breton, to Your’s Truly:

To shed more light on the subject, I was first introduced to the idea of Psychic Automatism when exploring the roots of the surrealist movement and was immediately intrigued by the suggestion that the limits of active consciousness could be expanded and employed. It was a claim originally proposed by Sigmund Freud, whose psychoanalytic discoveries gave substance to André Breton’s First Surrealist Manifesto, officially establishing Surrealism as an intellectual practice. (read The First Surrealist Manifesto, by André Breton, here: Surrealist Manifesto)

However, because there is no fixed single method of approach, the process of Automatism can vary drastically, influenced by any number of factors (such as personality, emotional state, space and time). And yet, for the most part, I’ve remained faithful to the surrealist’s original manner, adopting what is called Automatic Painting. Though, what is generally considered random and accidental mark making, I now refer to as intuitive composition, simply because of the progression I have witnessed in my own work, which evolved from pure abstract expressionism to diverse representations of abstraction, expressionism, and surrealism.

Here are a few examples of work created with The Automatic Process that exhibit a natural evolution, as I become more and more comfortable with this form of expression. Though the process itself remains necessarily flexible.

Puncture Wound

“Puncture Wound” © 2012, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

A Violent Departure

“A Violent Departure” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Achieving Symmetry

“Achieving Symmetry” © 2014, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Meditation-Eq

“Out of Bounds” © 2017, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

My Process:

As previously mentioned, my work isn’t always created in an automatic style. I still honor the tradition of painting when approaching classical subjects, such as landscapes and the body. But when I’m feeling inspired and uninhibited, I usually begin with a single color (if driven by raw emotion) or a simple sketch (when working from a concept that is intended to evolve) and allow instinct and intuition to guide each step along the way.

The key, once the work commences, is to remain immersed in the process, which requires me to “receive” rather than to dictate, seeking internal guidance without surrendering to the temptation to “edit”. And only when the subject has developed enough to contain substance and to speak for itself do I attempt aiding in the work’s aesthetic movement, by refining composition. The process’s real promise, after all, lies in discovery; not for vainglorious purposes, but for the emotional connections established by the image’s own individual presence and for its meaning, which is created and shared through discourse (between the work, the artist, the audience, and that mysterious source within each of us that never sleeps).

Follow me on Instagram: @whoismichaeltorres, and on Facebook: @ Who is Michael Torres

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Silent Scream

When a creative dry-spell becomes a drought, I sometimes have to reach beyond the image to recover the fire. I sometimes have to delve into the clutter of a collective creative consciousness, into the minds of artists who inspire me, to find a flicker of my own creative light.

There, in uninhabited space, outside the boundaries of our supposed 10%, we are all relatives. And, as I navigate through clusters of coruscated thought, which appear like stars within a galaxy, it is often the whisper of a word, printed on quiet paper, that resonates. It is often a whisper… that rekindles the flame.

I hear you… You, whom I would also call myself. And I am moved.

ContinuumSometimes… I get lost in the tangle. I get lost in the confusion of space and time, which carries me through the quietude, an encompassing silence that shares its mass and weight with me until I am no longer discernible from the vastness I’m attempting to fill; not to substantiate it, but to mitigate my own burden, which is comprised entirely of gravity, evidence of the stillness that flourishes at the center of everything.

From the surface, the pattern may appear only to perpetuate the repetitions. But the extremes of that structure have become so abundant and so intricately woven that the accumulation now seems like ornament, from a distance, like a dense cluster of meticulously carved impressions that were purposefully arranged within the enormity, which has no rhyme or reason on its own or within the immediate. Though, we may find ourselves at any time within that same instance.

In silence and solitude, where our conversation with the universe takes place, I lose myself, hoping to return with more than what I carried into that vastness, more than the substance I encompass and its portrayal, which is projected into the aether until a mutual exchange blends consciousness with the mysteries of existence in a single breath, inhaled and exhaled, and carried in a vibration, where I am both a part of and severed from the tangle of life and it’s myriad impression… always a memory (with each passing second), a memory that is integrated within the Self who is also consumed and discarded before the next draw of breath. And in that flow, both giving and receiving, everything that is conceivable, and its antithesis, are unified, though each expression becomes a different interpretation of the same encounter, a different point of view that is not in opposition, but in perfect harmony within the same focused confusion that created the world and all of its compliments and contradictions.

Transmutation

In February of last year, I began excavating the subconscious in search of my own story; the triggers, motivations and intended purpose of my work (if any). I wanted to discover my meaning, as the person behind the expression. Though, before anyone asked or wanted to know about it… I hardly cared. (read Who is Michael Torres? for the backstory)

A year later, the simple process of Commitment (to the search), and the not-so-simple process of observation (recognizing stimuli and tendencies), analysis (of early work), experimentation (with promotion and presentation), formulating a hypothesis (about how I fit into the puzzle), testing it (in the market), and modifying suppositions (to begin the cycle again),  has unearthed more than I could have imagined. But, because the full scope of these findings is too extensive to be properly addressed in one long entry, let us begin with the basics first, instead: The what, when, and why (continued below)

Excavation

When did I realize I was an artist?

Well… the honest answer is that I think I’ve always “known” (instinctually) that I was an artist. Since childhood, in fact, already practicing my signature, I was somehow imbued with a sense of that calling. And, although not fully developed or fully recognized at an early age, destiny has guided me through a slow transformation that has ultimately become an awakening.

Why do I paint?

It would also be easy to say that I simply paint out of necessity. Because, it is true. But I never would have understood the full extent of the “Why” if I hadn’t revisited my early work. Because, as I proposed in a previous entry (Who is Michael Torres?), I don’t know if it’s possible for any of us to fully comprehend our own motivations (though we may act on them) when we are still at the heart of those experiences, immersed in them, moment to moment.

The journey backward, on the other hand, has proven immensely useful, because it forced me to step out of my own shoes to investigate the root of my own intentions as a tourist who has been removed from the center of the past by the passage of time. And that journey has substantiated a fundamental truth about the nature of my work; That the creative process is my way of filtering my life experience; not purely for its own sake, but to allow the exploration of my own condition to serve as a key in deciphering and understanding the shared phenomenon of our sentience (as conscious beings).

Artistic expression is the only way I know how to make sense of the world around me, as well as the world within; my own emotions and proclivities. But, at times, painting is also purely cathartic… a necessary release that simply enables me to continue through the wilderness of this lifetime unencumbered by the past or by the weight of current circumstances, even if those burdens are only momentarily lifted (by deflection). The act of release and its ensuing reprieve still purchase stamina, an emotional steadiness, and a sense of composure that allows me to scrutinize the event of Life on more secure footing.

What my paintings are about

Although my own encounter with life is the source… the primary subject in my work is the Human Experience (in general), which overlaps on common grounds and is shared. My approach has always been “to understand” this encounter, whether hit or missed through the work itself. I seek essence and vitality. And I seek to express what it simply means to be human, through a visual interpretation of the senses, where the imagery is the language. Though, whether the work speaks to you or not… I can only hope.

Either way, the lexicon grows. And, although spoken silently (through shapes, colors, and textures), through refinement and repetition, it is also given meaning. But more important than what the work hypothetically represents, it’s true significance rests in the fact that when the image has enough gravity to draw you in, it truly becomes your own internal dialogue and a shared experience whose meaning is purely subjective. The work becomes your story to tell, just as rightfully as it is mine, because you recognize the expression (even if only vaguely) and are now part of that conversation.

Conflicted_Forms

 

From the outside looking in, as a traveler revisiting forgotten relics, I have finally seen the patterns and have heard a voice emerge from the repetitions, saying “At long last… you’ve arrived.”

Those words…

More of an imprint than a sound, buried themselves without preamble. Though its intonation unearthed its roots and anchored itself firmly into my walls, sprouting  like a seed that springs without need or nurture, all at once becoming divined and purely nature, the implications climbing and spreading like branches from a spark who rejoices at the promise of fire.

I found a reflection of myself in that moment, underneath the accumulation and in-between the here and there, as if stretched like an echo that knows it will be remembered, long before it is even dead.

through-the-wreckage

Having spent the last two and a half months entrenched in administrative work, behind the scenes, I finally feel like I can come up for air again, to breathe, and to escape the unshakable machine of my resolve, which never sleeps.

Consciousness is a battle field. It is an everyday confrontation of abstract forces at work, each fighting to command space and time within the Self. And when the mind and spirit are fully engaged and unified in their efforts, they are relentless in achieving their objectives, furiously striving to conquer a perpetual new set of conditions that challenge each new goal.

Thankfully (for me), I no longer consult my conscience for permission to carve out creative time. I have fostered my expressiveness long enough that it is indelibly linked to all activity born in me. After all, the story expressed in the image is the heart and soul of my endeavor, regardless of obstacles or barriers that require breaching. And the encounter itself, which can be defined by any number of circumstances, is a human experience… not just my own.

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