The art (or lack thereof) in spontaneity

I was just thinking tonight about what makes a great painting, and thinking about all the contemporary art I see these days.   There are so many artists that think great art is made by just slopping paint in all directions, filling up the canvas.  And in the early stages of learning, I think that's a typical approach (speaking as one who's never been to art school).   And it makes sense...often it's just great to see how different colors react to eachother, and to see how the paint flows or drips.  We become convinced that we have developed an artists spontaneity and an eye for great art.  In fact, we often become attached to our own creations. 

I certainly followed this path for many paintings.  More than I want to admit.  But to continue to progress in talent, an artist has to objectively evaluate their paintings alongside the many thousands of paintings out there online and everywhere else they exist.  If we're very honest with ourselves, so many of those abstract techniques have been done many, many times before.  Drip paintings (in the Pollock style), flow paintings, basic brush stroke paintings, geometric paintings,...they're everywhere. Are your paintings really demonstrating anything new or interesting?   Do they at least follow some basic principles of design, or are they literally just slapped on paint in all directions?   

I think real spontaneity, and the kind that looks organic, is very hard to do.  As soon as we put the first brushstroke down on the canvas, or the first shape (however it's created), our minds start to fall into old patterns and techniques.  I sometimes think abstracts can be done better by a machine or a blind person who is not influenced with what already exists on the canvas.  As for me nowadays, I think an artist who is progressing is intentionally trying new approaches and new techniques, often. And willing to really seek out critical feedback.  Ask yourself what you bring uniquely to your craft.  Maybe you haven't hit that point yet, but the artists I appreciate are those who are always striving for innovation and creativity.

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