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.

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