I do know where I’ve been. I have decided to offer a glimpse of the past with this page called History. It’s a catalog of paintings, drawings, graphics, and other miscellaneous items I’ve done in the past. This material has been dug out of my computer archives, old portfolios from school, and in corners in the basement. Some paintings have been painted over or taken off their stretchers and rolled up. Some are just pages out of a sketchbook and some have been given away.
For years I carried around a stack of paintings and drawings that moved from place to place with me. It ballooned exponentially with things that accumulated with each stay. It grew large enough to cause me to stop creating altogether, not wanting a bigger pile to drag around when it came time to move again. This cessation stemmed from being graduated from art school, yet having no clue how to promote myself as an artist. I suppose poor self-esteem also had plenty to do with it, not to mention the idea that within our culture art is fun, but not essential; a notion I believe many artists internalize. At least in my life, I’ve often wished I could be something more useful, like a doctor or a teacher.
Finally, during a time of personal upheaval, I was faced with moving my stack of artwork once again. In my hapless emotional state, I dragged the stack outside, threw it on the burn pile and set it ablaze. My conclusion was if there was no one to see it, is it really art? Or, is it simply a stack of marked paper and canvas collecting dust?
Interestingly enough, I just heard of a similar experience on NPR about a successful artist who also burned his entire portfolio, at a time where was financially destitute and had no galleries representing his work. He commented that the act of destroying his work gave him a clean slate and allowed him to move in a more successful direction.
Maybe it’s sad all that work is gone, but I’ve come to the conclusion that holding on to it was getting me nowhere. So often in life, it’s good to clean house. Hanging on doesn’t propel, you have to kick. The old cliche´ about throwing stuff on the wall until it sticks actually rings true. I’m working on some good stuff right now, I’m feeling more confident about making a living as an artist than ever before. What’s different now is that I’ve decided to stop making excuses and avoiding who I am, successful or not. I just want to be an artist, that’s all I ever wanted to be and all I’m ever going to be. If I end up toothless and in the street, never selling a single thing, that’s fine. At least at the end I will know I’ve been true to myself.
I know where I’m going.