Caught

All the great artists out there who are anywhere have a stated purpose and intention with their art. It’s called an artist’s statement. I came across a really good one recently, so complete and polished, I felt like slithering somewhere dark. For a while I was thinking perhaps I had something good here. At least I have a portfolio site and I’m writing a little, expressing myself—somewhat.

I know I need to write a good solid artist’s statement. All the self-help books who make us even more helpless say so. But what if I don’t have anything to say? In my world, it is rare when an idea comes before a drawing. If there is an idea at all, the viewer will know when they see it. Most of the time I just feel like drawing.

 I just want to make things.

Often I will look through books and magazines, find something that interests me and add my own embellishments along the way. I illustrate what illustrates me. I find the story in the drawing, not the other way around. I used to write stories this way; coming up with a title and writing a story around it. It’s like taking little trip each time I pick up a pen. What fun is a trip, always knowing what’s around the bend?

There is a common misconception that an artist is supposed to be omnipresent, ever clear and trying to make everyone else think. We are so deep. Actually, I am just as thick as the rest of us. I like what everyone else likes. I work all day and watch television at night because I’m too tired for anything else. I cook dinner, do house work, pay bills, shake a tail feather. I don’t have time to be deep.

If this is bringing me any closer to a well balanced, concise artist’s statement, I’d like someone to tell me. Maybe this will have to be it.

Mixed media, 18 X 24.

 

Apocalypse

apocalypse

Destruction is inevitable, resistance is futile. After the first Matrix movie, I stopped listening to the screenplay, it was so full of fantasy physics and beyond making sense. I do remember the part about living in a false consciousness  generously padded with the fat marbled layers of a material world. We eventually awaken to discover we are naked and afraid, living inside our own eggs precariously attached to a cold wet outcropping at the edge of the howling wind and crying ocean. It is much cozier to gaze at the raindrops pelting the window pane, forget we are engaged in our own undoing. It’s nice in this chair, but it doesn’t stop the polar ice caps from melting. Hiroshima was an awful mistake, still praying for peace, but we can’t look in the mirror anymore.  Just get rid of the bombs. You first, no you first, forget it. Nobody is flying the plane. Mixed Media, 24 X 18.

Thoughts on a Plane

Drawn on an airplane on my way to an exotic place, I could not help but express how my head was literally and figuratively in the clouds. The view out of an airplane window is fantastic, yet forbidden. We are originally land animals, after all. Clouds are fun to paint and draw. They have so many shapes and textures— tibetan tanka swirls, whipped cream, vanilla pudding piles, cottony wisps and bones of deities.
I wish drawing in public were as commonplace as reading. People always want to see what I’m drawing, which is fine for them, but embarrassing for me. No one ever asks what one reads or writes, but drawing in public is a novelty for most. More art should be done on planes to take the eyeballs off me. Or, I should hone my public persona and be more friendly.

Pen and pencil on paper, 7 X 8

Pen and pencil on paper, 7 X 8

 

From Nowhere to Know-where

Where am I going?

Hard tellin’.

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.