acrylic on paper, moleskine
I did this yesterday. Took most of the day to paint and futz around with my art work. I did this one, and also, I've kind of been trying to figure out what style I want to paint portraits in. Sometimes it feels too cartoony, or not cartoony enough, too modeled, not modeled enough, too rough, too realistic, too pretty, too ugly.
I don't know if other artists have this sort of dilemma. Sometimes it feels like I am struggling with it because I am basically a weekend painter. Between the kids and the job and the house and the writing and the wasting time obsessions, I don't have enough time to dedicate to experimentation and creating and discovery-- the journey. But maybe that's just a story I tell. If you add together all the years I've been working on art, the moments after bedtime or the summers before kids, the painting sessions with my tiny watercolor set, the sketching while at work, the doodling while in meetings, the classes I've taken, the museums I've visited, the books I've read, the classes I've taught, the crafts I've concocted, the photos I've taken... this is the life of an artist.
Just because I don't do it as my full time job, or because I didn't get an MFA doesn't mean I'm not an artist. I've spent 35 years developing my art. I'm lucky because I was born to an artist and was encouraged even when I was very young, but I think we all have a tendency to devalue what we have achieved, our own personal journey, and only see what we do not have.
What makes us artists? I believe that all humans are inherently creative, an artist is simply someone who focuses their energy on developing that creativity, on growing and experimenting, on discovering who they are and what they have to say, and honing their skills.
We can be artists at any stage of development, and as artists, we might very well have different purposes for being artists. While one person wants to be the next Sally Mann or Kiki Smith or Chuck Close, another person might just want have an outlet for their personal self expression, with no desire to show or create a commodity at all. Me, I think I'm somewhere in between.
I would love to be able to make a career out of my art and writing, to not have a day job, but I also think that I would do it anyway, even if I never made any money at all. And more than making money for me, I want to be an artist who teaches and enlightens others.
I suppose that's what my blog has become. I share my journey, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, but I do it so that I can shed a little light on the creative process, share with people who need inspiration, and perhaps find some sort of balance between living and creating. I don't know if I achieve that, but I try.
As for the painting, I am slowly developing a style of figurative work that pleases me. When I was painting the picture above, I went back to some old paintings that I wasn't satisfied with and adjusted the faces. Yes. What I thought was done, was not done. I might still continue to work on them. The process is never done. Or I suppose it is done sometimes, when you let go of a piece and send it out into the world or stuff it into a drawer... or maybe not, because you can revisit the images or ideas, they can continue on.
Oh just like life. Our process is ours. Our life is ours to develop, no matter what other people are doing. Just stay true to ourselves, try to be us, not someone else. Keep going. The journey is not over until we give up on it.
Keep on trucking.
(this painting inspired by this photo)