Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No big deal!

I like painting. I like the place painting takes me. I like looking at painting. I even like thinking about painting and talking about it.

I like the freedom that comes with it. I like the freedom I find in getting there and being there. And, I like painting in general, not just my painting. It is a chicken and egg thing; because it happened when I was so young, I don't know which came first, liking painting or liking paintings!

But I find freedom in painting, doing it, looking at it, loving it. The world of color and mark and imagination and light and seeing and feeling and vibrancy and intensity. Seeing. Feeling. Dreaming. Flying. Freedom.

Not many people see it this way, of course. The world is dog eat dog. The world has agendas. It makes it turn, apparently. I can live with that. Especially because I have painting.

The art world means business, which is why it has nothing to do with art, or painting. There is no getting around this, no having your cake and eating it. Make no mistake; let there be no confusion about this. The art world means business.

I was sort of shocked yesterday when I checked out a show on line. Held and Pearlstein. There were all these pronouncements and proclamations. Manifestos that made long lists of nos. Entirely about what it wasn't about as though there was such a thing.

I was once interested in the Brights, an athiest organization. The problem was, they focused on what they weren't instead of what they were, and that did not interest me.

It was as though Pearlstein and Held felt like they needed to make all these rules about why they weren't in order to be legitimate and important and powerful. Of course I think it is just the work of critics and dealers. Like me, they just liked to paint.

But if I have to prove something to be a painter, forget it. Not going to happen. Who cares? I would rather be free, which is why most painters just take their paints and go somewhere. Anywhere. Anywhere they can be free. Anywere they can paint.

Otherwise you just get a lot of people with agendas, with opinions, with rules and restrictions and punishments. If you want permission to be free, to paint, you have to give it to yourself, and keep giving it to yourself, and if you do that, if you give it to yourself, then no one can take it from you, can they? And how cool is that?

-- Post From My iPhone

Your lap!

It is really hard to embrace the responsibility that being an artist entails. Most artists would turn back if they realized the truth. But the truth is not a bad thing. Quite the contrary. The truth will not only set you free, as they say, it will save you.

Now we all know that artists get warned before they choose a life of art: it will be hard, it will be a struggle, it will mean suffering. As though some other life can somehow side step these things. What they don't tell you is why!

Why is it going to hurt? Why? Why is devoting your life to this mystery called art going to hurt so much?

Before I get to that, sorry, I want to talk about something totally connected to that pain. False expectations! False expectations dog the would be artist from day one! False expectations are laid at your feet, stuffed in your pockets, dropped in your drink! They are everywhere. I remember one of the first stuffed in my pocket: "when you're famous..."

People were always being kind when I was a boy, and asking me to sign things so that they would have them when I was famous. Harmless enough. But right there is the information that being an artist inevitably leads to fame, that art and fame go together, that maybe you can't have art without fame.

But that's not the half of it. Artists seem to inherit a boat load of expectations. Like getting support for spending time making art, instead of for spending 40 or 50 hours a week in a cubicle, or a factory, or on a construction site, or in the office. Like people are supposed to show your work, or buy your work, or like your work, or even care about it. Like it is supposed to matter or be important. I know of very few artists who are not psychotically obsessed in this regard.

An artist's responsibility is not to make others care about their work. But who knew? It is very hard to get around this for most people. People are supposed to want to help artists in their quest for fame. Right?

Being an artist hurts because artists believe all the crap they see and hear along the way. Even successful artists fall prey to this stuff in a quest for more: more support, more attention, more celebrity. How many times do you hear about artists leaving one gallery to go to another because they didn't think that they were being treated well enough. Or well-known artists who are depressed because they aren't more well-known?

Art is a gift. That gift is a responsibility. Gifts are for giving. Again, remember why you did it in the first place. Stay close to the bone. They don't call it the razor's edge for nothing.

Is it time for a "Moment of Tuttle?" No. Maybe later. In the meantime. Keep your expectations where they belong. Squarely on yourself. In your lap!

-- Post From My iPhone