I’m starting to feel better. Day by day, little by little. I’m sure of it now.
Today was a busy day. I’ve been pretty busy since Friday actually. I even worked on my birthday. Mjp said, “I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.”
I don’t usually talk about gifts I get. I think that’s stupid. But in this case, I just have to tell you what I got for my birthday because it became the greatest compliment I have ever received.
Michael got me, and personally framed, a screen print of The Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.
If you don’t know what that is, it is an antique bill that John Lennon bought one day and hung up on his wall. He liked the looks of it I suppose, because later it inspired him to write the song of the same title.
Mjp got it for me because he said it reminded him of me. Because he thinks that my creative mind works a lot like John Lennon’s. What a gift that my boyfriend sees me. He sees me being inspired by the things around me and turning those things into art — just like the way Lennon starred at this poster and created a song. That’s what he told me anyway.
Which is pretty funny because, when he told me the Lennon story, the first thing I thought of was how mjp once wrote a short story that was totally inspired by a lampshade! He’s the one that’s like Lennon, not me. But it was my birthday, so we had it his way.
In other news, I have been possibly having a breakthrough. I don’t want to speak too soon. I haven’t even created the work yet, but I’m planning on making at least a few new mixed media pieces that are like nothing I’ve done before. They are absolutely inspired by Joshua Tree too, but I don’t think you’d be able to see that in the work.
But who cares?
Here is the layout for the first one, but you can not tell what I’m going to do yet. This is just the composition.
It will be called The House on Doggie Trail.
I also finished that Samach painting today. If you don’t know which one I mean, here is the last pic I have of it:
I am titling it Fidelity and I will have to wait until morning to take the new, completed photograph of it. It looks a lot better than this. Trust me. And I’m actually happy with it! That hasn’t happened in a while.
I have to get up early in order to take that picture. Sometimes I blow it and sleep in too late and miss out on the sun/shade situation.
That’s it for now. I have to do some dishes now.
It’s no secret that I’ve been experiencing some rough patches lately. I guess it had to get worse before it could get better. I’m just waiting for it to get better now.
Still messing with this piece:
And I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it, but yesterday I started to feel better with the near completion of this new painting that I’m trying to find a name for now:
If anything, it feels like a relief more than anything else – like a burden lifted.
You see, I took this detour for a couple weeks and worked on a little landscape, which – I’m sorry – I just can not show you, and the more I worked on it, the more it sucked.
I’m not used to not being able to rescue a painting if it goes south. I’m really not. I just can’t let go. So what did I do? I didn’t let go! I just kept working on it and working on it and working on it until it was an absolute monstrosity. And not in a good way either. There is nothing good about it. But I just couldn’t allow my precious time to have been wasted and throw it in the scrapper.
Can you believe me?
Well, maybe there’s a lesson it this somewhere, but I haven’t leaned it yet.
In the meantime, I have spent a lot of time in therapy trying to get to the bottom of it and I know I have uncovered quite a bit of it. You’re not going to like this, but it has a lot to do with the Exodus Project. I’ve been stressing myself out about it! Way too much.
It seems that I keep thinking that I have to create work that is going to fit into a “theme,” instead of just allowing myself to work on whatever comes naturally. I mean, I shouldn’t worry so much since Joshua Tree is on my mind. Kabbalah is on my mind. I’m even doing a kabbalah class right now at my shul. (It’s hella interesting, too!) I’d think that stuff would inevitably reveal itself in the work.
But then I worry: what if it doesn’t? Then What? Will the world end? Of course not. But will there be a cohesive show next year?
Oh the pressures of being an artist.
On the bright side, since I have realized this stuff, I’ve created the above piece, quickly and easily. I’ve also been drawing – a LOT. New and strange ideas are coming and I am starting to like myself again.
I wasn’t liking myself very much at all there for a bit. It was sad, and sad.
Put it this way, I am learning to like my work. I’ve always had the trouble of liking other people’s art a lot more than I like my own. That’s why my house is filled with other people’s art. I don’t hang my own art in my house. Just a couple of pieces, but 50 others are by artists I love — not counting the ones in storage that I don’t have enough wall space for.
But instead of being sad that I don’t paint like other artists that I like so much, I am learning to accept the way I paint, while also branching out and experimenting. I must try to paint out of my comfort zone. That’s just something I will always always try to do. But to think that one day I’m just going to wake up and have a similar hand to XYZ Smith is ridiculous.
That’s actually a cool artist’s name. Maybe I should change my name to XYZ Smith.
I am actually going to post the following, not because I’m stupid, but because I want other artists out there to know that we all hit brick walls sometimes.
I wrote the following the other night as a private post. I do that sometimes. I use this blog as a kind of “Dear Diary” and do not make all the posts public since, believe it or not, I get even more personal than I already do. But I decided to publicize this rant and lay myself out on the train tracks.
Perhaps I am stupid. At least I won’t promote this. It will just sit here on the blog. No Tweeting or G+ing on this one.
There are no pretty pictures or links. Just feelings and private thoughts. I suppose I write like this in an effort to get myself through the fire and (hopefully) safely to the other side, but it doesn’t always work.
I am so fucking frustrated right now. It’s the third full day in a row that I spent my time on a painting that I am growing to dislike more and more, the more time I keep wasting on it. It feels like wasted time. The last two months feels like wasted time. I mean, I know it’s not. I’m just so upset, I feel like screaming. Screaming, then crying. Mostly crying. I always resort to crying. The anger only lasts so long. Since I know that, I just assume I skip right to the crying.
What’s going on? Why am I having such trouble? I mean, I know this is probably all part of the struggle and I need to experience it, but I don’t have the time. I am too impatient, which is part of the problem! You see, I know that part. But it doesn’t make it feel any less infuriating, being self-aware. It actually makes it worse; knowing what’s wrong with your car, but not having the tools to fix it. It sucks!
Not too long ago, I knew exactly what I was doing.
But this has been going on since I was in the middle of that God forsaken alef painting, Firmament. I’m so ready to throw that thing out of a giant window. I want to hear the large pieces glass breaking. I liked it, then I didn’t. It was working, then it wasn’t. I thought about it too much, then I asked too many people what they thought about it until I got a balance of good crits and shitty ones and now I just feel like crap about it. Uncertain. Frozen. Advice is no good.
Well, that’s not all together true. I was able to get some good advice from Trine about how to move on to the next two paintings, so that was great. I’m trying one with no journaling on the paper, and one where I am definitely going to expose the writing and sketching. Trying to do “both” on one painting was obviously impossible. It was actually crazy. I must have thought I lived in another dimension where the physical universe laws didn’t exist. That was driving me insane. That’s at least no longer making me crazy.
Also, I can’t bring the writing back any more than I have on that painting, so fate has decided that one for me. If fate hadn’t, I’m not sure I would have been able to make a decision!
I can’t even believe I am still writing about this stupid painting. I have never had so much trouble! This has never happened to me before.
That’s not true. I remember almost going mad about 20 years ago during a painting. Finishing it was torture and I nearly lost all of my sanity trying to get through it. Oh my God, I don;t even want to think about that painting. I’m so glad it’s gone. But at least I liked it when I finished it and was pretty certain it worked. I just practically wanted to die painting it.
Isn’t painting fun?
The picture I have been working on for the past two days, and several weeks before, is that abstract landscape. I remember when I was so inspired. When I was excited and starry-eyed. I couldn’t wait to get those canvases at Blick so I could get back here and start working on this thing. I was HAPPY. Where is all that happiness now? It’s turned into utter pain and discouragement. Disappointment is more like it. It is turning out nothing like I imagined. I mean, paintings never do, but they at least have an inkling of your original idea. This just looks like a pile of steaming crap, yet I keep messing with it and trying to make it better – and that’s just the thing: I’m TRYING. I shouldn’t do that! I KNOW not to do that. But here I am.
Okay, go back to the beginning.
New American Paintings.
I was looking through past issues of New American Paintings, which inspires the hell out of me, Every time! I always find amazing artists that I love, love, love and all it makes me want to do it paint. It gets me excited and impatient, like a little kid. I want to waste no time and get to work before I get old and die or get hit by a bus.
And I spot an artist in particular – Lisa Sanditz – and I seriously have no idea that she’s hot shit and shows with ACME – which I later find out. I just love her work straight off the bat. I go to her website and see a lot more paintings that I like even more.
She paints abstract landscapes. Something I had been thinking of doing for a long time, yet here she is. She’s doing it. And this sort of thing happens all the time to everyone. You have an idea and you don’t get off your ass and do it, then someone else comes along and does it before you. Well, this was the case, and she didn’t just do it, she did it in a way that floored me. I loved it! And of course, this kind of thing has been done before, she’s just doing it in her style.
Of course, I have my own hand and my own style, so I thought, I would like to do this with some Joshua Tree scenes, and start with some pictures that I took as beginning references, then just branch out and make it nonsensical from there.
I can do that, right?
I’m too tight, it’s too cartoony, it’s not the way I want it, I just can’t paint. I can’t PAINT!
And now I feel like I am trying too hard, trying to fit everything into a little “Exodus” box. It makes me want to spit! It makes me want to cry.
I just want to carry on with what makes me happy right now. I think I’m not up for a challenge at the moment. I’m too overwhelmed.
…yet I have spent all this time the past couple days working on this picture? Ha! I obviously want to. Something about it. There’s something about it that I want to explore. I just feel like I
And I’m stuck between the minimal and the expressive. I want to do both. I mean, I can. Nothing is stopping me. Just me.
And why am I stopping me? I’m stressing myself out. I don’t know if what I’m doing is…stupid. I even have my doubts about calling myself a serious artist. I mean, I’m serious alright. I’m an “artist.” I make “art.” I am creative. I have ideas. But skills and talent? I’ve never had those. Not really.
I think I just needed to vent.
It features fellow gallery artist David Abir, who is first up. I come in towards the end of the show at 17:59.
I’m a bit nervous, but I suppose I shouldn’t have told you that.
Lately, I’ve been working on a commission for one of my collectors in Chicago. I’m pretty into it since it’s a Kabbalah tree of life diagram, you know, Carol Es style. Or at least done with a bit of my flair to it. But now I’m going to be working on two of them since I couldn’t decide on the background for it. I’ll be giving him the choice of the two of them and I can keep the remaining one to sell. He’s cool like that.
Since I can’t find my large, shallow plastic bin, I went to Blick this morning to buy some butcher trays so I can tea-dye some of the watercolor paper that I got for this special commission. While I was there, I would up getting the very last of my art supplies for the Exodus Project, which were prac near a full set of Sennelier Grand oil pastels.
I also bought what I thought was the perfect case for them too, but wouldn’t ya know it – when I got home I discovered that they barely laid vertically inside of it. I’ll have to slightly use them before they will fit in there the way I want them to. Not too big of a deal.
Okay, so remember the painting, Firmament that I said was finished? You know, the one that I fussed with for over a month? Well, turns out, I wasn’t finished obsessing on it. I don’t think it’s done, so I’m going back in. Call me crazy, but it’s still not right, and that’s driving me crazy, so something has to be done.
So back in a bit, hopefully. I’d like to find some time to give an update on how all that goes, but finding the time is a whole other situation.
That’s the title of my favorite Dr. Suess book. It’s the last one he created before he died. I remember rushing to the bookstore on the day it was released. I read it right there on the floor in the isle of the Walden’s near my house – and back then – I even felt guilty to be going to a “chain” bookstore to get it, but Dutton’s wouldn’t have it for another week.
I remember crying on the floor, sitting cross-legged with the book in my lap upon reading the last page.
Later I bought one of the special editions of the book that’s bound in linen with a matching slipcase. I hardly had the money to do that at 22.
The reason I revere it so highly is because it is not just some children’s book, like Green Eggs and Ham - my previous favorite. That was the book I made my babysitter read to me every single night (that I was being babysat that is) before I went to sleep. I could hear it again and again, never getting tired of it. I’d pretend I had never heard it before. I knew how to do that sort of thing when I was six.
Oh the Places You’ll Go is profound, and I wished that Theodore would have written it when he was younger, but the wisdom of the book came when it came. Unfortunately, I was already grown up when it came out. If I had been able to read it at six years old over and over again – instead of Green Eggs and Ham - I would be a different person today. That I know.
But luckily, I was still young enough for this book to have a great impact on my life. I still read it from time to time to remind me how to navigate life in the simplest terms. It will help you do that. No kidding!
I bring all this up because I should have broken this book out about a week ago when I was having the dilemma with my alef painting. You don’t even wanna know what I went through.
I know a lot of people think that painting and making art should be all about joy and happiness. I mean, why would you contribute to an endeavor that caused you such turmoil and grief at times?
Ha! I say.
Those people don’t know artists. Working artists anyway.
I have fantasies about retiring one day and becoming a hobby artist, which is pretty funny. I don’t think it can be done. I don’t think it’s in my blood — painting leisurely. I probably thrive on the struggle. Maybe because I always come out the other end of it a little more learned. A little more evolved. At least I am in my own mind. But isn’t that all that counts?
I haven’t written about my progress on this painting for a while because I got myself into such a muck that I didn’t want to resurface until I could find my way out of it on my own.
I had to make hard decisions in the midst of some deafening insecurities, which actually happens with me quite often. Surprise surprise! An artist with plaguing self-doubt. Have you ever known one of those before? Or do you only know the overly self-confident kind? News flash — those guys are even more insecure. Not that you couldn’t have guessed. You guys are smart enough people. All three of my readers are very intelligent, so I don’t need to explain this stuff.
Admitting, publicly, that you are riddled with self-doubt is probably not the best PR, but I’ve been able to get by with sharing my vulnerabilities so far without getting too much flack.
Having eyes on me could have contributed to the stress of knowing where to go next with this painting. By that I mean exposing myself and every step of this work on the blog. I wouldn’t doubt it, but that was why I had to make a disappearance for a week, so you understand.
Last I left off, as far as you knew, we were here:
At this point, I was still liking it. Still excited, and was not stressed out in any way. However, it was not finished. This was not the point where I would ever think to walk away just because I liked it. Painting is not that simple. Especially painting something abstract.
I spend far more many hours looking than I do painting. It’s all about looking, and thinking, deciding, and more looking.
You’ve probably heard this before, and it’s going to sound like some “art speaky” cliche, but it’s really the painting that dictates where it wants to go.
You can have all kinda intentions about where YOU want it to go, and that’s just too damn bad. You’ll just have to throw all of your dreams for your painting out the window because that’s when this happens:
That’s when I went crazy.
I know, not much of a difference, right? But to me, this was all wrong. I didn’t even want to show it on the blog until I figured out what I wanted to do about it.
All I could really do is look. Look and think and sort of ask it what it wanted. You have to let go of your control. I was trying to control it and look what happened: it started to look controlled.
Maybe you don’t see that, but I sure did. It looked controlled, and tidy, and anal, and deliberate and suddenly what was originally free became something I wanted to bury in the dirt. Just in these slight changes.
So I took a few days off and just glanced at it every so often. (That means I obsessively looked at it every half hour.)
Then I took one real day off from it.
The next day I finished it. Just like that.
First it was hard, and then it was easy. That’s the way it goes.
So after a month, and after all this time, all this fussing, all these paths and talk of significance, this painting is finally completed!
It’s called Firmament. The first painting in the Exodus Project series!