I believe many things in our existence happen in cycles. We see it every day: when the sun rises, the seasons, time measured in increments of minutes hours and days, and yes the near daily trip down to my studio. It is supposed to be a haven; my artistic fortress of solitude where I can turn the art muse on like a light switch and produce what it is I am striving for… art.
Some days I feel my uncreative mind manifests itself like a ball of lead chained to me. Often I drag it, willingly, trying to parse the hundreds of mundane thoughts about art that run across my mind on any given day and channel them into productive action. Sometimes I feel neither desire nor energy to cope with it, I find myself looking down trying to muster the strength to even drag the lead ball again. There are more times than I’d like to admit that the old ball and chain wins, and I give up. It is in those windows of time at the studio that I produce nothing, think of nothing good to paint, fail to draw, or plan anything that would benefit my rocketing art career. Every so often I will look down with a bit of resentfulness, as the ball laughs at me in victory. I often see its weight stifling my creativity, but also choking my pocketbook.
“Yes John, that is a great idea for a painting, but you know you’re going to have to frame it and get some prints, and that means you’re going to be broke until payday again if you do that.”
This mindset easily transforms from a short cloudburst into a hurricane of negativity, and I honestly don’t know why. It becomes too easy for my mind to wander from art to expense, and the lists of things I need to do. There seems to be an unlimited amount of expenses I need to pay for and deadlines I need to meet. Often they rise up from the depths like air bubbles from the ocean floor. Things like my tent, jury fees, booth fees, framing materials, matt boards, a camera lens, studio rent and so on. I often ask whether all of this self-imposed struggle will be worth it? All the resources going to a hobby that has yet to be even close to self-sustaining. Before it was art, it was a hobby shop that sucked nine years of my life away, and gave me nothing of value in return but headache worry and financial stress. I’ve replaced that with a burden as an ‘artist’. Perhaps I don’t learn lessons very well.
I’m not blind to the facts however. Being an artist means you need to arm yourself with knowledge, and most of all the willingness to drive forward alone, regardless of the obstacles. I feel I’ve learned a great deal about the craft, both its technical aspects as a painter, and the business aspects that must go along with the brushes and pigments sitting up in my studio. As far as the business of art goes I understand or think I do, the way to make money, how to market myself better and move forward as an artist in a economy that frankly has little room for art. For most of us success doesn’t come overnight, which itself can be very precarious, even to artists who are financially making it.
I’m sure the few subscribers I have to this brain dump I call my blog don’t really care to read about anything other than progress updates to what I’m painting now. Yet I feel that only showing such things is putting up a façade of smoke and mirrors to what is going on behind every painting I’ve done. There is a silver lining to all this, in that I’ve painted some decent watercolor paintings since the fall of 2006 when I decided not to waste the one good talent I’ve been honored to have in life. I believe I have improved with each piece, and know that when I look back ten years from now on the painting I’m just about ready to finish, that I will see it as a stepping stone of progress and recognize its place amongst the other works I hope to do in the future.
So the cycles continue, the uncreative side is winning, but I have taken some time to find inspiration. Often I look to other artists’ work. I rather enjoy browsing through online galleries of artist I don’t know. It feeds my creativeness, but often makes me feel very unoriginal at the same time. It begs the question: “Why couldn’t I come up with that by myself?” I don’t have the answer, and ultimately will it matter? Do others find inspiration in my work? I’ll never know but I’d like to think there are others like me that have taken something of value from my work and in some fashion, melded it into an idea of there own and created something with it.
I’ll be posting the last image of “Reading Time” shortly and then I will move on to two new paintings, both are book themed still lifes. I must give credit to an art book I was paging through at Borders the other day, Exactitude: Hyperrealist Art Today.
The first of these paintings will be large 20” x 30” piece will be titled “The Collector”, and the second I have yet to figure out, but it will be a smaller piece ~12” x 12”. Hopefully I can get both done before the cycle of May is over.