January 2, 2010

Been Like That

It's been like that.

Scrape offs.

For the month of December... or most of it anyways.

Click on for a brief tale of woe:

"You're only as happy as your last painting", so I like to say. This kind of happiness only lasts a week, less than two. Then the dissatisfaction creeps back in, especially if too much time elapses as you take care of all of the responsibilities in life that you had neglected during the studio hibernation necessary to complete the painting (I paint alla prima, an old program I undertook to put the tension into the work, wanting to outwit the slack I saw/see in other artists' projects, the problem of accretive sloppiness and meandering strategies in contemporary work). It doesn't take long to lose that creative wave after even the slightest hiatus from the studio, making a restart seem monumentally daunting.

I type all of this here to exorcise the demons, against my usual wariness of revealing weakness, the problem of the confessional blogpost. (Is this why most artists don't blog? Great artists are supposed to be Olympian, and the gods are not weak by definition. Is a blog like Toto, pulling back the curtain?) Don't let them know you're hungry, another chestnut of mine, directed toward artists in relation to their galleries (they've got enough problems of their own, all they want and need to know is something wonderful and new). Once long ago, after posting a blog entry that reported the nausea I felt after repeated scrape offs. I made a private vow to spare you, my dear reader, of such confessionals... so here I type these words a bit carelessly albeit with some restraint. But this blog is supposed to be chronicle of my curiosity, and in squelching myself recently, I also silence the many tracks along the way that I've been relying on to serve up a compost of ideas to trowel back into the garden of my paintings. This blog is a kind of virtual studio visit, and if you had stopped by my studio in the past month, I wouldn't have had much to share except this sad sack of an artist wrestling with doubts, wondering: who am I, where have I been, where am I going? How can I simultaneously open up my project and chart a path that curtails the problem of feckless meandering, all the while cashing in on the virtues of surprise and revelation?

I've preferred to paint in a way that sets up a pattern that seeks it's own destruction, that oblique turn that throws one into new territory, gambling for kismet, throwing down all your cash for the lucky seven or eleven. When it doesn't happen, I pull out the knives and take it all off. It's all or nothing -or failing that, even a little something. I'll take what I can get. With these multiple scrape offs, I've been looking as I feel I always have, for that surprise, that happy bolt from the blue, those unexpected turns that throws one off the habitual game and into new territory, all the while hoping to skirt the danger of careening into the gutter of fecklessness. It's a bit like falling in love, like a traffic accident, something that one cannot force by direct intention. Intentionally unintentional. So here we have it, someone who wants to be lovestruck but nevertheless compelled to drive dangerously.

Click on dear reader, pay no attention to these bleats of frustration. I've been here before. This too shall pass as it always has for me in the past. Just around the corner, I'll open a door and find myself again in that blessed wonderland of artistic happiness...

...even if that spell lasts only for a week or two.

Posted by Dennis at January 2, 2010 6:03 PM

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