"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can." - Danny Kaye
Monday, May 3, 2010
Decrepit, Despondent, and Drained, but Hopeful
There was an empty chair at the Coconut Grove Art Festival back in February, so all I had to do was sit and sketch the scene. This week I colored the drawing in spare time increments (which, unfortunately, is how I always seem to do things these days). That last session I was tired when I started, and not at all pleased when I finished. I half-heartedly scanned it and couldn't think of one good thing to say about it. I could barely write a word. I was exhausted.
On her blog, Katharine Cartwright (my art philosophy guru) has just started discussing a book that I highly recommend, Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I love this book, and truly believe that reading it was one of the reasons that I picked up a brush again after decades. It's also a book that I read from time to time whenever I need a boost.
One thing that Kathy mentions from the book, is that artists are very concerned with process. The viewer of the art is not at all - the viewer of the art only cares about the end result. In this way there is a disconnect between artist and viewer.
And, oh, about this picture I could think of so many things I did that I shouldn't have done, and, oh, what I could have done if I'd only done like I should've, and man, why didn't I have a better grasp of watercolors after all this time, and shoot, why didn't I keep my eye on the ball - where the light was coming from, and blasted, why didn't that color lift and why hadn't I tested the staining qualities of my pigments like I'd been meaning to do, and so on. Process.
And then I showed the picture to my wife, who is always an honest arbiter of my work, a fierce critic both for and against. I don't always agree, but she's handy to have around. (I think I'll keep her.) And she liked it. She didn't have a bad thing to say about it which I chalked up to her lack of hard knowledge of the craft. So decrepit, despondent, and drained, I went to sleep.
The next afternoon, the sun was shining, and I ventured another look inside my Moleskine. And, you know? I kind of liked it. Not as good as it could be, maybe, but better than I'd thought. Maybe I was the viewer now.
And what is the hope anyway? That in a year I'd open the book again and smile at my efforts and think of how far I've come, and of the journey yet ahead.
The idea, I think, is to open the book and draw and paint, and then close it..and move on.
Celeste Bergin, a marvelous painter, once commented on one of my posts that painters know that there's PAIN in the word PAINTING. But she said, "Painters have to be willing to fail over and over." That, I suppose, is because they do.
Swerving along the artistic road with every sight a potential target. * * * If you'd like to contact me about any of the art that you see - about purchases, commissions or just to say hello - feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you!