Friday, February 12, 2010


When I first started out in art, it was all about "more".  If I started a drawing, and it went wrong, I just flipped to the next page.  I started over.  It didn't matter if my bedroom was littered with crumpled papers, because it was OK to start over.  But that was only pencil and paper. 

When you graduate to something like paint, you start risking more. It's expensive.  So, you start conserving.  Planning.  You spend more time envisioning than you do actually working on a piece.  You can literally sit around all day, and when someone says you did nothing that day you can argue that they're wrong.  Because while your body was still, your mind was at work sketching, and erasing, and layering, and chipping, and starting over a hundred times until you had it right.  Or at least going in the right direction, enough so that you could actually approach the canvas without guilt and worry overcoming you.

It's a process that not everyone uses, but many of my friends do.  I can honestly say that out of the last hundred or so canvases I have begun, only two have been a loss.  Not every painting was worth hanging, but they were as I intended at the time... for the most part (art isn't something you can just dictate.  It's organic.  It's sort of slippery, like water.  You can try to direct where it goes, but at times it simply has a mind of its own.)  So, I restricted myself to only paintings I knew would generally come out right.

By another seemingly unrelated turn, for many years I worked only in black and white.  Color is the first thing every person reaches for, but it's far harder to use correctly than working in strict shades of gray.  I didn't touch color for the longest time, not because I didn't love it, but because I was afraid of it.  Of creating something worthless, or worse - costly and worthless.

I'm not sure why, but for the longest time I have struggled with creating junk.  It doesn't matter that no one would care.  That making a whole slew of junk might even be a good thing, a necessary process sometimes.  It is... wasteful. 

Lately, I have found myself wound into tighter and tighter circles, holding myself back. The best example would be my online gallery; in all those paintings there is one that looks like a game of "which one is not like the other?"  The boy sleeping on the moon, while different from the other works, is not unique.  I seem to have two styles, one that works for contemporary endeavors, and one that runs just a wee bit on the cliche side. 

And let me tell you, cliche can be fun as hell.  I have written and illustrated a children's book, on a project for charity that was unfortunately dropped due to a change in program. The children's book gave me the latitude to create on that level.  It was going to go somewhere, so it was acceptable to play around and make goofy kitsch-like compositions. 

I have had many people ask why I don't sell postcards and calendars of my contemporary work.  The answer is that I just never got around to looking into it.  But lately?  I've been looking into it, and I am happy to say that I'll soon be offering those requested cards and calendars featuring my work. 

But as I was thinking about the calendar, I realized that I may have to do two.  The reason being not that I just have so much work, but because I would really like to play.  To make pictures with a calendar in mind, no matter how cheesy (I love making Christmas pictures, for example) would be a lot of fun. 

I think I have forgotten how to play with my art.  It's been enjoyable, but... well, I suppose it's like being a grown-up verses being a kid.  As a kid, you get recess and the opportunity to run around like a lunatic and hang off of things like monkey-bars without feeling any embarrassment (assuming you don't fall on your head, which I did do a time or two.)  As an adult, you can still run about - but you are expected to do it with dignity, to find a sport, or activity generally accepted as a "hobby" by the grown-up-playground at large.

Maybe this will only create a whole lot of junk.  Trash, even.  It could happen.  But I recently sold a painting, I'm already in the green (or the black?) this year business-wise, and I could take the money and set it aside for "junk", and not feel guilty about my economic success with my business.

Yes, I think I will.  It really is time for a recess.  Long past time. 

Besides, I always have the fire pit in the back yard if anything truly hideous results from my efforts. 

1 comment:

Irene said...

You brought up a good point, about playing with your art. Finding that joy in the process does bring about some fantastic creations. :) Art is also subjective, and junk is all relative.

I'm happy to see you posting, again.