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12/12/2006: "Pain of losing artistic "voice""
I’ve been thinking about solitude lately.
“The state or quality of being alone or remote from others.”
“A lonely or secluded place.”
It has been a kind of unconscious theme in my work for many years. Remember how one of my collectors resold several pieces because she had seen the "strong single women" depicted as too solitary, and realized she didn’t want to be surrounded by that vision of her future? My reaction:
“It's an interesting concept, that the artwork we respond to and surround ourselves with is in some ways dictated by how we see our place in the world. I never really thought much about how my women are always quietly alone, I guess that’s how I see myself and in some ways maybe it *is* who I am.”
Being alone and independent is comfortable for me. There’s no one counting on me for anything, no one to disappoint, and no one else I have to depend on for my happiness or well being. Letting go of that isn’t easy, in fact, it’s really scary.
Of course, I may be getting worked up over nothing; I just feel discombobulated and I know I wouldn’t fret so much if I still painted regularly. However, I believe you should actually know what you want to say before you open your mouth. My brushes have been quiet because I don’t know how to visually represent the confusion I’m feeling about my new non-loner status.
I haven’t felt this way since I was in art school. I already knew the proper *techniques* but I had an instructor who pushed us to *say* something; and to not be 100% literal. He wanted us to use symbolism, color, and design to represent feelings and create narrative beyond simple still lifes or landscapes.
I used to sit there for hours obsessing over what I wanted to say...trying to figure out what was really important to me. And then, how to show that in a single image. Every piece I created felt like having blood drawn…painful, leaving me a little weak and nauseated. After each one I’d fear I’d never be able to think of another.
As an adult, and as my “unique style” has developed…I’ve come up with a system for creating works that produces a seemingly endless supply of possibilities. Sure, I could sit down tonight and easily start 5 new paintings with the same general theme and style as I’ve been doing for the past several years. And the colors and designs would be (hopefully) interesting and pleasing to look at. But LAZY! I’d rather not be working at all, than to be cranking out piece after piece when it no longer feels honest.
Or am I being crazy and unrealistic? Is it always better to be working?