08/10/2004: "When we revise, do we "deceive and lie"?"
I got an email from a guy wanting to buy the painting titled “Relics, 1917 (formerly known as Sandy Beach) because he really loved it. Trouble was, he was looking at an older version of it that was in my “works in progress” gallery. I never posted a photo of the version that made it into the show.
I sent him a photo of what it looks like now and he responded that it was “unfortunate” that I changed her and went on to comment about what he loved about the way I had it before that is no longer present in the painting. I wrote back about how the painting had been giving me troubles and that it had gone through various stages, sent him a link to the entry where I had several versions (altered in PhotoShop) posted for feedback…he responded, in part:
“When people are asked to give feedback and suggestions (regarding a creative process) they will offer a suggestion based upon their perception and their education. My issue with this is that in the truest sense of creativity you defeat the true purpose of creativity through suggestive influence. This defeats the original creative process and transforms it into something no longer creative but now subjective.
I was moved by the original painting. I disagreed with your fellow artists' assessment of what you should do to the original painting. It was perfect. It was perfect because it had raw feeling and raw creativity.”
I wrote that: “For me, I love hearing the opinions of artists (who's work I admire) on what they feel is working or not working in a painting that I'm having troubles with. For many (most) of the paintings I do, I don't need to ask for anyone's advice because it just feels right from the get go...others are trickier and I struggle with them more, and so, getting feedback from other aritsts is a way for me to see the work through someone else's "lens" so to speak. Some of the artists who visit my site are sculptors or photographers so they see different things that I may miss. I find it extremely helpful.”
This exchange was interesting though and really got me thinking. It reminded me of an argument in one of my favorite films ever (The Naked Lunch) where one of the character’s (Hank I believe, who represents Kerouac in the film) says:
“See, you can't rewrite, 'cause to rewrite is to deceive and lie, and you betray your own thoughts. To rethink the flow and the rhythm, the tumbling out of the words, is a betrayal, and it's a sin”
While the second character Martin (who represents Ginsberg) argues that to rewrite is necessary to distill and refine your own best thoughts and ideas.
That exchange has left such a lasting impression because it translates so well to visual (or any creative) mediums. Which is “better”, your first instincts or a piece that has been revised multiple times after much careful thought and consideration?
On a totally different note, the novel “Naked Lunch” was written by William S. Boroughs in room 9 of the Hotel El Muniria, Tangier, Morocco…it’s the room the owner lives in now (the place is a real dive by the way). Rick and I got to stay in #4, where Kerouac and Ginsberg had stayed when they came over to assist in trying to knock some sense into Boroughs and the novel that was kicking his ass. (In the movie, Hank and Martin come and find Lee (Boroughs) all drugged out in Interzone (Tangiers). Somewhere I have a photo of the door and the view that they would have had out the window towards the straights of Gibraltar.
It took us forever to find the little place but it was well worth it. It was right next door to a tiny expat
bar called the Tanger Inn. With lots of photos and scribblings from the beat poets who had hung out there.
Oh yah, back to Relics, I emailed a woman who had loved the painting (as it currently is) who was interested in buying it to say there was someone else interested in it as she agreed that she does want the painting so it all worked out in the end.