[INITIAL NOTE: The art above was created after all of the good advice below for the
next page of my joint sketchbook with Raena. It is also posted at our
joint blog 2'nFro . If you would like to comment on the art, please go to that blog to do so. I'd love to know what you think. And if you have input on the words in this post, please comment here at Dan's Canvas: Have you had similar experiences? What do you think of these artists' advice?]
Pssst. Here's a secret. I've been in a bit of a funk, artwise. I am trying new things. They mostly aren't working. It
may be that I am in some kind of transition period. That is the hope.
I was feeling a bit down about it and then, as often happens, the universe gathered to counsel me.
I heard an interview with Thom Yorke of Radiohead here, and he was talking
about how he creates. To paraphrase as advice (and applying it to painting):
Paint to the spot in the middle of your
head. Do not consider merit, technique, goals, and the like. Just
paint. You are just one of the latest of a vast family of artists in
the history of man. You are a pebble falling down a waterfall.
you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), 'Am I really a
writer? Am I really an artist?' chances are you are. The counterfeit
innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death." -
When I commented that I needed that quote about now, Belinda generously sent me an e-mail, and said:
".. I hope there is no doubt in your mind that you’re an artist,
through and through. I read an excerpt from a book about creativity (of
all types: writers, painters, musicians) and the common current in the
blood of every artist is a heightened sense of *feeling*. Like a
high-resolution sensitivity to beauty, sadness, elation, mood shifts in a
room, light, color, aroma, sounds, etc. I see evidence of this in your
work, and your words. Being an artist has nothing to do with output
(although the same book talked about enormous satisfaction in the act of
creating, like a release, in the same way a good cry makes us feel
better), and it certainly shouldn’t be validated by modern measurements
associated with financial or exhibit “success” in the art world. You’re
an artist. Plain and Simple."
Wow. Thank you so much, Belinda.
Then, finally, I was listening to the latest podcast of Modern Art Notes, and learned about a letter that Sol Lewitt sent to Eva Hesse when she was feeling much the same. Here is big chunk of it [warning for the easily offended: profanity and references to private body parts are a small part of this, but the words are so profound that you should read it anyway!]:
"..Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering,
doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling,
grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling,
humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling,
scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing,
boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling,
nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing,
alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing,
back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding,
grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!
From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and
you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good
“Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real
nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More
nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts,
whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something
inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of
you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your
own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your
fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to
decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even
some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being
stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!
I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting
yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the
worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let
everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are
only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your
work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be
anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you
stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think
that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!
It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go
through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing
Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and
hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different
and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on
and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did.
Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads
you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better
if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about
it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling
your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest
of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or
before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on
what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that.
After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can
see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also
must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to
yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand
why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I
can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the
most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power
the ability to do anything."
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 email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you!