When do you know when a work is done? I contend it is done when it does not bother you anymore. When it sings and when it speaks to you great mysteries and live secrets and everything is coming up roses. Then it is done. Before that, it is a work in progress.
The progress part is fighting and looking and agonizing and screaming and crying. This is not a pretty part. If someone comes into the studio when I am on the process progress part and says something to me, anything to me I totally don’t like it. Because I start to look at it through their eyes and start to immediately find fault and fury and then want to destroy the painting.
You might think I am overreacting but I think that is normal. To all onlookers of all art in progress– don’t say anything. We are not done. We are not done. Do you look at a half baked cake and say that it does not look done? No.
So don’t look at art in progress and make comments. Don’t even say you love it because then I will try and figure out what you love.
Someone told me once that your body wants to keep doing what it is doing. If you are lying down then you want to keep lying down. If you are moving you want to keep moving. If you are failing you think you will keep failing and if you are doing good you think it will always be like this and when you feel happy you feel like you want to burst with joy and when you are sad you cannot remember what joy felt like, and you think you will die of sadness. Yup we are creatures of habit, even habits that started two minutes ago.
That is why it is good to get the ball rolling in a good direction. We control the direction of our minds. We are the ones who make the ball move. not circumstances. We bob and weave through life. You just have to get good at it.
I did a painting yesterday that I am in love with. It makes me want to go there and be with them. It is the sweetest painting I have ever done. ever ever ever. Most people will love it because it has such a kind feeling that you never want to stop looking at it. this is where I am steering my new paintings. unbearable sweetness. only I can bear it and so can you. I think everyone is starving for sweet. That is my new habit. focused sweetness. that is going to affect everything in my life. yup. that is just the way it is.
Nothing in the world is like art. Everything in a room has a use . for something. Nothing is use-free. Except art. Art is unique in that way. I would also put art objects in that same category. We call things on the shelf knick knacks but someone designed them as art objects at some point so they are art too.
The urge to create is so great that artist make things mostly for the sheer joy of it. It is like a compulsion to make it is greater than the what are we going to do with this now reality.
I have these little chihuahua salt shakers. They are so charming that I probably would have bought them even if they did not have salt and pepper in their heads. If they were just little things to put on the shelf.. someone made them originally, Are they any different from what I do? I was looking at them this morning. Even if they were made in a mold in Mexico, someone designed them. They speak to me. I content that they are art and they are the same as a painting. A spark is a spark.
Anything made for the sheer joy and sheer compulsion of creating something that nobody needs is art in my book.
Examine things today and think of the person who was compelled to make the first one. . Maybe the person who designed the first one owned chihuahuas and loved them so much that they had had had to make a little figurine. I don’t think art is snooty. I think art is what you must do or you will explode.
I wish I could meet the person who made my chihuahua salt and pepper shakers. I bet I would find a soul mate.
I just saw the Norman Rockwell show at the art museum. What a huge body of work to have completed in one lifetime. Not only did he spend hours and hours painting in a painstaking manner but he had all the models and set up and photographs and stories to get done too. Illustration to the tenth power.
Such skill is beyond comprehension. Yes he was a master painter but more than that is he painted a picture of America during the 30’s to the 60’s. What he looked at was just his experience put on canvas. He painted America not only in the illustrations but in his technique too. He was bold and innovative.
I heard some people say that it was too sentimental but I beg to differ. Norman Rockwell was a breathtaking original artist. Nobody was or is like him. Not ever. This is an important show to see. don’t miss it. It is America.
I wish I could just start painting and have all these great ideas nonstop to pour out. But no I have to slog through a few bad ones first to find the good one. People way that I paint fast. Well I guess so compared to a realist painter but they have an advantage. They are painting something real. it is right there to look at. I have to invent something from no real thing to look at. I have to make it up and it has to work. Oh I may look at a photograph or some kind of image to get going but I throw it out after about 10 minutes. What I want has to paint itself without me interfering I have no idea how most of my painting let painted.
I know this when I start out. It is just a journey of trust that it will show up and do it without me. I am just gong along for the ride.
Any artist will tell you that is true. the real stuff is not done by us.
My son playing the piano like this for years, He would just start going and let it take him to where it wanted to go. Listening to him play was profoundly breathtaking. It was like being in heaven.
He did not take more than a year of lessons when he was 12. that is it. the rest just came.
all great art just comes when you get out of the way. I know people will disagree with me but that has been my experience over and over again.