May 6, 2013

Baby? Bathwater? A lesson.

Last year I made a lot of new work but didn't spend hardly any time trying to get it into galleries. At the beginning of 2013 I got really freaked out from not having any shows lined up beyond the local coffee shop.

What followed from this was a great deal of worrying about my work in relationship to being 'out' and for sale. That's dangerous thinking for a painter not dealing in pure decoration or illustration. So I went through half a dozen iterations of what my new work was going to look like. I wobbled about in these various directions, getting about two steps in each of them before reaching an insurmountable conflict with each one.

I had surprising revelations in the middle of the night, I drove to the studio convinced over and over that I'd really nailed it this time. I collected materials for 3D collages that never materialized, bought a mirror for a self-portrait, some really wacky colors of Gamblin paint and the list goes on. It's not like I haven't made anything interesting in the last five months. I have. It's just all over the place, just like old times- which scared the ba-jesus out of me.

I remembered something said to me about change in the studio- basically, that the work you make during these times can be embarrassing and revealing but that it MUST be so for a time. So I tucked this advice in my cap and kept on, forgetting the other half of the advice: that you must be a master of what you have, not what you think you ought to have. More simply put: don't get ahead of yourself.

Then I visited to my own website for an unknown reason. A surprising thing happened- I responded to my own work. It turns out that I am actually getting a little closer to what I set out to do, to make images that are strange, beautiful, playful and hungry. It's not perfectly there, there are gaps and room for growth but- those are opportunities!?! Why did I jump ship in January?

Fear. Insecurity- because I didn't have what I felt I was entitled to have. Even though I have built my life around a certain ideal: being true to making art and damn the consequences, I suppose it's much harder to walk the path than build the trail. Your ego sneaks in and demands attention, you begin to want what others have or feel really stupid for doing something different. Something alone. The 'being true to making art' part is hard enough, but the 'damn the consequences' is much easier to exclaim than to slog through.

Just another instance of self-analysis driving one in circles. You'd think I'd have learned that lesson. Well, it's not as if I haven't learned anything through painting in the last 5 months, just not as gracefully as I would've liked. Let the following be known henceforth:

CHILL the f@#! out.

Do YOU really want to do this? Or is there an outside pressure here?

Don't rush whatever it is you're working on.

The commencement dictates the final result.

Leggo that ego.

Jan 9, 2013

Pieces at the VMFA: Susan Rothenberg

Here's an idea:

Interviews with painters that currently have a piece up at the VMFA. Starting wiiiith....

Susan Rothenberg

Now find her piece!!! It's a ricocheted stone's throw away from weddings on any given Saturday. It'll probably be gone now that I've posted this. There's a clue at 26:26. Also, notice how at 23:35 the interviewer adeptly avoids a very illuminating quip from Rothenberg regarding her practice.

Jan 1, 2013

Certainty, Certainly Not

The past year in the studio has been a lot more straight-ahead than previous years. It's one thing to spend a great deal of time in there- tearing ones hair out, shamanessing all over everyone, questioning oneself to the point of paralysis but it's quite another to go in checking your insecurity at the door.

Ok, it's not that easy. I've just gotten better at maintaining the right mental state. I would compare it to meditation. When your mind wanders back to that arena that you've learned through experience isn't helpful to creation, you just return to quiet center, as one would a mantra. It's also like driving a car, constantly making minute corrections in order to keep moving forward.

None of this has helped me get my work out particularly, but that's another skill set and certainly a New Year's resolution.

There was another change that happened this year. I discovered that I was relying on painting ideas that I hadn't actually done yet as some sort of mental crutch. I would think, "Well, even if this doesn't work out, I have this other thing" without actually making any move to create this 'other thing' and thus not fully committing to what I was working on. When I realized I was doing this, it was a little embarrassing. It's as if I had to fluff myself up to stay positive. Well, there's got to be a way to stay real with yourself without tearing yourself down. There's got to be a middle road.

My solution was to do a couple of these 'other things' promising myself that I would withhold judgment. That no matter what it looked like that I would just stay above it somehow. If I wanted to continue down one of these paths, I just would- I wouldn't analyze it to death. I'm just going to let it happen, having actual faith in that thing I claim to have faith in: intuition.