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01 August 2013

The Remainder of the Year...

It's so very easy to focus on what hasn't gotten done.

So easy, and so pointless.

My tube of Gamblin's Torrit Gray arrived yesterday, and it brought back to mind that I had (re) started work on "The Presentation of Spiders" in June of last year, hoping to have the Grisaille ready in time to submit it for last year's Torrit Gray Contest, deadline October.

And, my mind immediately started listing all of the projects I'd hoped to do this year, but haven't accomplished, yet.

Stop that. Stop it this instant!

Part of the reason I moved away from journaling in The Artist's Way's (TAW) recommended style was that I was tired (exhausted, actually) of surrounding myself with negativity. By writing down all of the negative thoughts every morning, TAW hopes you can get all the negative thoughts out of one's head, so you can focus on positive stuff the rest of the day.

I, however, learn best through writing. If I want to remember something, I only need to write it down.

I found that all the negative thoughts I was supposed to be "exorcising" through my daily "morning journal pages", stayed with me even more, since having written them, I remembered them all the better!

So, instead of focusing on all the unfinished projects of 2013, I'm instead going to focus on moving forward with those projects, and more, over the rest of this year, and into 2014.

No, "The Presentation if Spiders" isn't finished. But, it is well along--and (even more fantastic) its looking pretty good! I have been drawing much more regularly, and I have a couple new paintings in progress that I think are going to be really excellent. I have one of the bookshelves Ive wanted to build in my studio (literally) for years, done--and I've started on the next two! My woodworking skills are improving, my studio is better organized, and I feel like I have more (and better) ideas now, than I have since graduation in 2008.

We were in Detroit last weekend, and that is our last (scheduled) trip for the year. I am going to make the most of the last five months of this year, to create.

And, I'm not going to set many (any?) goals.

I am feeling the need to follow some of these ideas, wherever they take me--and if I end up putting some of the current projects aside for a while, whether I end up with a certain number of completely new paintings, or the same number of completed "older" pieces, really makes no difference; the end result is the same (with the exception that the new pieces move me forward in a way that slavishly completing older projects, may not).

Thanks for reading!


  1. Why is a conceptual framework important to you when you look at finishing a piece as "slavishly completing" it? Working from specific concepts will be just one more limitation, where you're at now.

    Good plan to skip the negative-download journaling at this point: it's only amplifying issues you already know about and reminding you that you're still ignoring them. It's a bad loop. Idea: continue journaling, but change format. Idea: journal about how you want to feel while making art (in contrast to feeling constrained, pressed for time, stuck in a rut, whatever is going on with you now). I suggest this because it is deliberately not a goal-oriented format. Instead it concentrates on reconciling you to the present, so that you can work comfortably in the time available.

  2. Lee:
    You may be right. I have always thought that conceptually rigorous work, technically excellent work, and emotionally engaging work, shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Most of the artists I admire these days seem to have a strong conceptual underpinning for their work.

    I don't view completing paintings as "slavish"--if Im engaged in the work. There have been times, though, when I reach a point where I feel Ive moved "beyond" a certain piece, and finishing it just to be finishing it is time better spent on "something better".

  3. Your comment about "reconciling myself to the present", though, is absolutely spot-on!

    Take care,


  4. Been thinking about your reference to Wendy Carlos and "pure" composition, and wondering what's the matter with being the performer. Does she struggle with the differences between her performance and her vision? There are few who don't.

    One solution is simple enough: don't perform. Keep the vision pure in imagination. Mentioning this because of your current desire to go where the ideas take you. Easily done, without materials or studio time expended. Can you develop and elaborate upon a visual idea without using your hands and eyes? What's the downside?

    Also bemused by your fellow student's claim that "conceptual themes" can't be expressed by the human figure. What intellectually overwrought process could lead a student to that conclusion? Maybe your fellow student couldn't do it. Doesn't mean you can't.


  5. Lee, Ive been thinking about your comment--and there was a lot to think about. I think Wendy Carlos realized that--if an artist wants to actually create something that can be shared with a audience--that becoming a performer is impossible. Even a composer who pose works are performed by an orchestra (or a screenwriter whose works are interpreted by an acting company) is responsible to a large degree for what the audience ultimately witnesses.

    Yes, one could avoid performance entirely, and just "think up stuff" in one's mind--and who knows if most "non-artists" actually do this?!--but, even if that is the case, no one can know (or enjoy the results).

  6. I've heard countless creators talk about the divide between their "vision" and the resulting work. (And Ive always wondered what geniuses like Vermeer or Rembrandt or Beethoven would have found to criticize about their work!)

    On most days, I worry about such things, too. But, I would like to reach a point where I just focus on the work, getting it "out there" worries.