Friday, July 20, 2007

rachelsent suggested in a comment on this post that I read a book called "Art and Fear~Observations on the perils (and rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This happens to be a book that I own. I bought it once so long ago now that I can't remember, based solely on the title. Art and Fear. Perfect. But did I read it? No. So I went hunting and found it on a shelf and opened it up and discovered that I had started to read it, once upon a time, because I had actually underlined in pencil parts of the first chapter that had spoken to me. I started to read it again, from the beginning of course, and quickly could see why I had underlined parts of it...there is so much in this book (that I have barely scratched the surface of reading) that speaks to me. I can't imagine that it wouldn't speak to any artist. And by artist, I should note, they are referring to more than just the "fine artist", but the writer, the musician, the actor, etc....whatever your art may be...they are speaking to it. Lots of food for thought. I want to share some of it w/ you as I go along my merry way of reading it. Plus, if I commit to sharing it with you as I go along, I will be ever so much more likely to actually read it. The simple act of reading it alone is enough to get me started in my mind w/ a long list of things I've been "meaning" to do unrelated to art. Or perhaps "my art" is just simply "my life"? I don't know....hard to say which one I'm tuning the most into in reading these inspiring words.

Some of the statements that really spoke to me were these:

"Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself."

"...becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive."

It is easy to forget this sometimes. When I pay too much attention to "outside forces" and not enough to my internal dialogue, then I am much more likely to go into a funk where I create absolutely nothing.

"To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping that artwork. The viewers' concerns are not your concerns (although it is dangerously easy to adopt their attitudes.) Their job is whatever it is: to be moved by art, to be entertained by it, to make a killing off it, whatever. Your job is to learn to work on your work."

Now in my case, part of the process is asking the viewers what they think. (So this isn't exactly what I refer to as "outside forces") I have never been one to hide my art until it was completely "done" for whatever reason. And I have had many a "disagreement" with some people regarding particular pieces for the very reason that I don't always take into consideration what they have said. This seems to especially be a dialogue that happens w/ men. My husband, and one of my very best of friends (who is also an artist) especially. But I love those conversations and I learn so much from them. Perhaps this is because I haven't had a lot of "formal" training as a visual artist. I've got to get the conversation going somewhere. And so this is why I mean it when I say that I welcome all points of view on stuff, but to expect that I might not take it into consideration. Is this unfair of me to ask of people? Talking w/ others helps me to "learn to work on my work".

"One of the basic and difficult lessons every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential."

Ain't it the truth. This is the hard one for me...I want every piece to be a success. But life isn't like that, so why should art be? Why do I have this high expectation? It throttles my desire to go on, and that just is silly. Besides which, the only way to get better is to practice. But then this thought kicks in (which is a header to the second chapter):

"Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working" ~Stephen DeStaebler

Hey....isn't there a quote like that by Anais Nin or Virginia Woolf? very true.

So my problem...if I'm going to be honest about that lately I've been too wrapped up in the idea of selling art. I suppose this is because I'm not "working" and am feeling the pinch of that choice. It is also in part due to the fact that I had an art show and was fortunate enough to sell some work...and that "greed" part is trying hard to edge itself into the forefront. It is hard to admit that, because no one likes to admit when they are dallying in one of the seven sins. We like to project to those around us that we are perfect and not needing of anything in particular....but you and I both know that is practically impossible. Everyone has a bad thought or two. It's like those potato sell a piece of art and you want to sell more. There's nothing wrong with that. I think everyone should be allowed to make a living doing what they love. Where it becomes a bad thing is when it thwarts my desire to create anything new. "Well, I can't afford to buy more supplies" (never mind that I used to paint on slabs of scrap wood for lack of funds...and liked it.) or "I need to get rid of some of these paintings I have left before I move on". (That's a bunch of crap....just stick 'em in the closet or better yet, give them away!) I have to move away from the idea that every piece has to be sold. When I fell in love with painting I had no thought to selling it. I remember I was extremely surprised the first time someone offered to buy something. It has always been a struggle for me to come up w/ a price. Is it too much? Too little? All those thoughts about money just get to me. "Money is the root of all evil". Ain't it the truth!

So there are some of my ramblings on the subject of art. I would love to go back to school and perhaps get that "formal" training some day...but I'll have to wait that out until my husband is done w/ grad school. In the meantime I will have to get my learn on reading good books like this one...and it's already helped. And so did asking for your comments...I "finished" the painting. To some it might not look like I did anything much more to it, to others they will notice the difference. All in all, it only matters what I think. And that's okay.

However, I'm too tired to bother with scanning and piecing and showing right that will have to wait. Besides, it's time to put the one behind me and move on to the next one, anyway!

1 comment:

L.M.Noonan said...

Thankyou for those fantastic quotes. I have to track down that book. I found EVERYTHING you had to say on the subject interesting and completely relatable (is that a real word?)
We (artists0 all 'know' that stuff, but seeing it written is so comforting. we're not egoist pigs. Anyway, the whole selling thing is an important issue; but only in this regard- the value of the work.
Someone I know sells his paintings for figures that range from 50- 100 thousand dollars. Now that SEEMS a lot. BUT, he’s almost 80 years old and he didn’t start to make any real money until his middle age. Add to this the fact that he puts at least 10 hours a day (more as the exhibition dates loom), seven days a week. His dealer will get 50%, the tax man 30-40% on what’s left. All of this and more, and let’s not forget surviving the great cull that occurs in an artist’s middle years are factored into the price. Plus there’s a ‘finite’ amount of paintings that he is going to be making...he’s old; he’s mortal; the investors are rubbing their hands.
I don’t know about you Miriam (did I tell you my middle name is Miriam?) But spend weeks and sometimes months if the work is very large making a work, and if I need 5,000.00 for it, that’s bloody cheap, because I can earn better money as a checkout chick in Woolworths.
Perhaps we should a price justification comment with our work citing, hours, material costs, wages, academic qualifications, years spent honing out craft, know-all that shite.
Honestly, saleability doesn’t’s just a bonus.