Monday, September 10, 2007

The tough climb...

Tight detail of new painting, "Reading." This area of the painting is perhaps 5"x5".

This painting has entailed more detail and effort at realism than I've attempted in a very long time. Today---just few more touches and it's done, after 3 hours of touching up the background, finishing the shadow areas on the last three rib bones and highlights on a few others.

With every painting, I tell myself that it's worth the effort. I remind myself that creating any new thing opens up a new vista of possible events and outcomes. Who knows where this painting or that drawing will lead? Also, I remind myself that every artwork is a step in some direction---with every piece, I'll learn more about my craft and that knowledge will lead to yet more artworks and more learning.

Gotta keep myself going.

Especially in light of continued, demoralizing rejections. Some of you might remember my post on my quick and dirty method of charting art successes and failures; a list of my show, grant, exhibit, school and competition entries with a happy or frowning face beside each. (Very elaborate, very mature...) If I'm accepted/win = happy. Rejection = frown. I do a count periodically to see where I stand in the overall scheme of things. Lately, there have been a lot of frown faces to color in. Most recently: not chosen for the annual NW New American Paintings competition and my paintings not chosen to be purchased by the Anchorage Municipality to be permanently installed in the Eagle River High School. (I kind of loved the idea that my artwork might potentially influence some young minds....)

Being an artist is kind of like climbing Mt. Everest naked on one of it's more cliff-like approaches with a piano tied to your back. It hurts, it's difficult (to say the least), and you feel mightily stupid sometimes. You often ask yourself why the hell you put yourself through this shit. You think of other people that don't torture themselves with this seemingly overwhelming and ridiculous task and envy them their apparent ease and comfort.

I suppose if you do ever make some altitude, the sense of accomplishment is pretty great. If you summit, you've made some notoriety for yourself, some fame, some lasting impression. With a task this daunting, every foothold and inch of ascension makes for some personal satisfaction.

I'm off to go do something truly satisfying like haul firewood....


Carson said...

I hear you.
I often ask myself why I "put myself through this shit".
The answer usually is: Because I can't (literally) can't do anything else. And I mean that in the positive sense. Put crudely, it's create or die.

cochabamba said...

dont know about the everest metaphor... i liked climbing, and i really enjoyed the challenge of it, back when i had the free time to do it. but i dont see it to be quite as brutal and hard as you. the most important thing to me is that you love painting, that you enjoy the process. all those other things, fame, recongnition, money... they are all nice rewards but they should not distract you from your real reason for doing it, which in the end has to be only for the love of doing it. it is hard at times, but anything worth doing is difficult. that's my take on it, for what it's worth.

Eero said...

Okay, guess I need to make some clarification....

The art itself is the Piano---the thing I go through hell to support, nurture and take with you. The climb up Everest in the altogether is my metaphor for trying to get art exhibits, sales, grants, shows, residencies, awards, etc., etc.

...and yes, I do want money and recognition and success. Is that so bad?

cochabamba said...

Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting success and the rewards that come with it. We all want those things. Anyone who says they don't is lying. But those things may never come. Or they may come when you are old and bitter from seeing much younger and less talented people succeed. I have seen other older painters grow cynical and bitter, and their work suffered for it. I try to keep things in perspective, to remember that the important thing is the joy in your work, even though it can be frustrating at times. If i had to do it all over, i would probably be a stonemason.

bugheart said...

i enjoyed
your exchange
with joe...
i think
you can't help
but want
at the very least
make a living
with your art...
it's true
that great
success may
never come-
even to those
most certainly
deserve it...
that seems
so damn
tragic to me.

Sarah said...

I think perhaps it helps to know others are going through the same thing? Blogging has certainly helped me in that sense :)

JOJO said...


JOJO said...