Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the struggle... part I

     Formulaic and Anecdotal are two descriptions of art to be massively avoided - this is what I learned during my study of the history of art. Only fresh interpretations of imagery, deft use of line, and original use of media would be worthy of study by future generations of artists. If an artist had a settled way of rendering an image or pattern of composition (a formula), or if the subject matter was worthy of note only because it was quaint, titillating or in vogue (anecdotal), then it wouldn't "stand the test of time."  ...it wasn't ART.  And as a student of art history, I know this, I can see it, I have internalized it. So how can I approve of less in my own work? There are shades of gray - I mean, Picasso's blue period? ...he kind of had a formula going... but then he moved on to discover new things. So, is Alex Katz is formulaic? He certainly sticks to a color palette... Is Norman Rockwell anecdotal? He certainly told anecdotes with his images... If a body of work has similar characteristics, does that make it formulaic?
 This 3" x 3" image is one of a set of new
works I am struggling to help emerge.
I feel I'm not quite there yet. But will
I frame it for sale? Yes.
       If it takes me my whole life to find what I'm trying to say (and how to say it so I feel others grasp it) but manage to sell some of the stuff that was created during the struggle, does that make me a hack? still emerging? never emergent? an also ran?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Limitless - finite

     I settled down in my oversized chair, knees up over the heavily padded arm with the remotes in hand. No firm idea of a goal was in my head, just an unfocused need for mental escape mode. Clicking through the options on my Netflix screen, I saw "new releases" pop up. I'd been feeling the winter blahs ... that stuck-on-the-couch, treading-water mindset of just getting by, not going forward... something new had to be more appealing than the next episode of even my favorite TV escape. Flipping through new options I saw the movie, "Limitless", which I had heard about this past summer and remembered the desire to check it out. With a new sense of direction I clicked on it.
     It's basically about this guy who has found the bottom. A creative person with no will to create, and on a course of self-destruction. By chance he is given this new (imaginary) drug/chemical substance, and within seconds of ingesting it his mental synapses fly open: it's as if he moves to another plane where he can see all the possibilities, all the paths, he has access to everything he ever knew, heard or read, and can synthesize it to now fully direct his life. It was like he could inhale all the information directly into his mind and like a "popper" dancer, direct the energy wave throughout his whole body and SNAP, he was in control. It was a fascinating concept - that with a substance you could gain access to all of your brain power - (some people think it happens when on a current drug of choice, but of course, it doesn't) - and yet watching the actor move through this transformation and seeing the directorial decisions about how to relay the character's feelings and perceptions on screen, I had the feeling that it was almost more a state of mind than a drug induced thing... that the drug didn't actually do anything except give him the will to think, to focus, to be mindful and driven, to never stop doing, thinking, creating, planning - in short - to choose to use your brain.
     We so often get drained by a project or something we are required to do - and therefore in our "off" time, we want to 'zone out'. However, I find the most draining things are those that require little brainwork. The monthly bills, cleaning the bathroom, dishes (ugh), laundry, completing a bibliography page, forms and paperwork, driving to work, meetings where I'm only a passive participant... Our brains are actually energized by newness, creativity, the need to focus and add our two cents. We get energized by brainwork so why, when tired, do we feel we need to 'zone' even more?? 
     So after watching this inspiring movie - I decided to try my best, whenever I could, to keep the focus: keep thinking, planning, doing, synthesizing, making lists and following up on details, NOT letting anything slide because of "lack of energy" - finding the energy.  Most of what goes into my day is mental - so it's not really about physical energy, but about the focus it takes to stay on task, and when one is done, to instantly take up the next. And this, in itself, can be energizing.
     Choose to use it.    However, there's nothing wrong with Netflix. :)
Winter Sun, w/c on clayboard, c. 2012
[along those lines, here's the first of a series for a new set of cards - I've found that winter sells well - there not being many artists doing winter - so I have (another) new project.]