The last several days were spent painting Luck’s Dancers. Today, red ones. I could do this while watching a movie, or while listening to music---which is much more likely---but still I’d be thinking. I must be, because I don’t notice when the music stops sometimes. I get lost in the painting and lost in thought.
Today I thought about the discipline it takes to paint ten pieces exactly the same.
I’ve decided I don’t have it.
But then, surely I do?! I've had the discipline to repeat microbiology studies following precisely the same protocol---to the FDA approved letter---for exactly ten trials. To write every calculation in tiny grids on waxed papered notebooks that don't allow for mistakes or changes without signatures.
I have had the discipline to learn a Chopin piece, every note in every measure, adding or subtracting nothing. I have had the discipline to sew a quilt from hundreds of socks.
Then it must be a matter of will.
Or, if not that, it’s that I don’t see why ten Luck’s Dancers should be precisely the same. In fact, I believe it’s better if they are not. Just the same in spirit and color and basic design. Otherwise, of course I’m going to take sidesteps---a tiny figure here, an exploration of shading there, mismatched shoes, a teardrop, or a wink.
Do I have the discipline to succeed in the collectables market? I'd say, without hesitation, no.
I see things in the textures of the broken background colors of each of these little Dancers. They beg to be brought to the surface. I pull them up, like bodies from deep water.
There comes a time when an artist realizes she can create anything.
There comes another time, later, when she realizes she can’t create everything.
Choices must be made, priorities set, deadlines met. Long-term projects committed.
Then, there is the small matter of vision.
Some visions must be followed immediately, even at great cost, because otherwise they will disappear. Some visions may be contained in a notebook or shelf and will only ripen with time.
I am of the school that believes the ability to judge between the two comes only with time and experience.
I am of the school that believes that balancing the responsibilities of being an artist and the duty to the artist’s vision is an art in and of itself.
I am of the school that believes that, once in a while, you must follow a wild hare with joyful abandon.
Once in a while.
Now I’m painting Lucks Dancers and thinking, and thinking. Because in one hand I have a long list of things that must be done. In the other, I have an evilly divine idea.
I don’t know what I’ll decide. But I can see it, this idea, peeking out of these figures as I paint, which are different from the ones I made before, and from the ones that I’ll make next time. One thing I’m certain of is that when the last of this bunch is painted, I’ll have my answer.