Wednesday, 16 July 2014

a month of no writing

On June 12th I decided to stop writing about my process, both here and on the facebook page. I also decided  to stop posting most of what I produced, which I knew was a strategy to keep me going that I was employing to stop me from feeling that I wasn't doing what I wanted to be doing, or not doing enough, or doing and making rubbish.

I've discovered four things that seem to give me a lot of trouble.

1. Desire/longing to work; to see what will happen next; to work more, to do
2. An unconscious compulsion to make paintings
3. Intolerance/criticism/impatience with regard to what appears
4. Trying to solve problems such as inexperience with paint and canvas; subject matter; meaning; purpose, through analysis and writing

1. Desire/longing to work
This creates a constant feeling of dissatisfaction, given that I actually can't paint all the time. I seem to find it almost impossible to accept that by lunchtime I'm pretty much done with it. That I need to walk and cycle outside, that I need to rest and read and digest and  reflect; to sing and play the piano, to talk to other humans. I would do away with all of these (except the singing) if my body would let me, but it won't.

2. An unconscious compulsion to make paintings
This prevents me from experimenting, from doing things that are slow and not particularly going anywhere at all. This was probably preventing me from exploring paint and canvas, which I been wanting to do, but have kept avoiding. There's just no way I can start to make paintings on canvas until I've put in some apprenticeship/learning time.

3. Intolerance/criticism/impatience
This is always lying in wait to sabotage any new thing that tries to emerge. It has resulted in me scrubbing out or painting over six foot drawings that have taken two weeks to make, and which I realised three weeks afterwards had nothing particularly wrong with them. It has contributed to not being able to work in my studio because there's a chance that someone will come in and see something that I'm in the middle of learning about. It's also one of the reasons that I have to stop working at lunchtime, or break from what I'm doing after a couple of hours. If I don't leave something alone, let it rest, wait and make space, carrying on  is likely to result in destruction.

4. Trying to solve problems through analysis and writing
Well. Writing about process is one strand of my activity. Words are a form of creativity for me. And, I seem to be committed to some kind of sharing of this analysis of process because there doesn't seem to be that much of it around. Some people have got in touch and said that they feel less hopeless in their process, less alone, after reading these meanderings.  So, this is my report on a month of not writing. But I can see now how writing and thinking can start to replace what is actually needed, which is to work with the problems in the doing. An artist, you might argue, does not solve problems by using their mind, but in the working; through the doing, through acting with and upon materials.

I'm working more, and also understanding working differently.

I'm no longer trying to make paintings. This is freeing me up to see where I need to develop technique and skill, and making me a little braver about taking risks and producing ugly or kitsch things.

I'm becoming a little more patient and expecting less. I understand that everything is much, much slower than I would like. Somehow the sense of there being no time for all I want to discover and make has to make way for some kind of acceptance of the limitation of what is actually happening, right now, in all its inadequacy.

When I feel the need to start writing it all out, I wipe my mind clean and either go for a walk or draw something.


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