Monday, July 10, 2006

Examining the Choice

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

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.



Anonymous said...

Evilly divine idea?

That sounds delicious...

I'll take 2

jestersdna said...

"Choices must be made, priorities set, deadlines met. Long-term projects committed."

F$#% that. Your vision, your ideas, you do what you need to do. Everything else can wait. Deadlines? Not important. Anyone who wants anything you create should know that it takes time. This is YOUR work.. you just happen to sell some of it to make enough monopoly money to keep playing the game. Ultimately, it's yours and no one elses. F$#% deadlines.

"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."

Every time you make two things exactly the same you kill a smal part of your vision. Maybe even part of your soul. Things aren't meant to be the same. Every time you make two things exactly the same you come a little closer to a site built home that's exactly like the one on either side with that perfect green lawn cut to exactly the homeowners association's specifications. Conformity is the grave of creativity. I learned that in the military. As much as they tried to push me into that mold, to make me fit their ideas, I had to resist, I had to grow in other directions.

"when she realizes she can’t create everything."

That's a big load of manure and I can smell it all the way here. That's just you feeling old, feeling the pressure of the sands running out. F$#% that. I oughta slap you for that. You can create everything you want, all you need to do is remember that it's not about anything else but getting that inner vision out and making it materialize. You know this better than most.

Somebody has to crack the whip every once in a while, so if might as well be me. As they say, the nut don't fall to far....


David Niall Wilson said...

I suspect that this is the equivalent of not wanting to write formulaic stories or novels, on some level. Maybe it's why I chose writing instead of other creative outlets.

I would be disappointed if the Luck's Dancers WERE the same...personally, and collectibles? If they are one of a kind they are MORE is YOU they are collecting, after all, tiny bits of you...why chip out identical bits? The DNA is there...


tamidon said...

How annoying. A fascinating post about artistry, vision and priorities and I can't get the out of my head my curiosity about what that quilt made of socks looks like.

Alys Sterling said...

It's better if they're different.

Of course, I'm hoping you go with the divine evil...

Derek Ash said...

A quilt made of socks sounds pretty evil.

Maybe not divinely so...

But still.

I'd like to see a picture that sometime.

And it's fine to leave the notebooks up on the shelf... but let's not let them sit too long, shall we?

Dan Guy said...

I can only do repetitive tasks if they are utterly mindless. Creativity has no place on the assembly line.

faerydusted1 said...

Were they clean socks?

If not then it might be divinely evil...

I went to a quilting festival last weekend. I was amazed at the skill it takes to do that. My husband was amazed at the amount of money people get for quilts.

ravyn said...

dna: i suspect that the comment about choices and priorities refers to her work. i might be wrong, but, i do know that Lisa has several things going on, long- and short- term, and, prioritizing that stuff is important.

i do agree on the point of making things exactly the same. i'm sure if she thought about it, she would realize that, even if she learned the Chopin piece note-perfect, i bet she never *played* it exactly the same each time :-). And even most so-called collectibles are mass-produced.

Also, i like how you said, she can create everything *she wants*.

Lisa, do you really want to create "everything"? Hehe. As DNW said, the fact that they are one of a kind makes them more collectible. i will add, it's the uniqueness of being handpainted, that each one will have tiny differences, that sets them apart from mass-produced collectibles.

i need to meet your DNA...... hmm maybe in Sept???

vandaluna said...

I just can't imagine Lisa would even entertain the thought that they had any need whatsoever to all be "alike".
She was just toying around with the concept of making things alike.

lisa said...

Corporal Hammerstone: indeed. my idea would make even Oreb blush

Jestersdna: I appreciate the spirit of what you say (if not your tone, for which I suggest a prompt apology) The answer is somewhere in the middle. When artists work with authors, publishers and galleries there is responsibility. When artists support their families with the art, there is responsibility. I think what I'm working on is balancing the responsibility to my vision and the responsibility to my work. You can appreciate the difference.

As for the quilt: It looks like a quilt, with squares, but made from socks. Years ago I helped with a project that involved making quilts for the homeless from 'reject' socks we got free from a factory. I made one for myself and two for birthday gifts: one for my brother, and another for Neil, who keeps his in his cabin, I believe. They're extremely heavy and warm, and...they're made of socks! I offered to make him a quilt from his cats. We agreed it would be quite warm, but too loud for sleeping.

On creating everything: it's like a candy store in my head. So many pencil drawings I want to do, so many paintings, papier mache, bronze, worlds of kinetics...but only so many hours and days and years..
I do have to pick and choose, which has nothing to do with anything except laws of the universe.

Thanks for all your comments.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I agree that it would have to take alot of discipline to put those type of finishing touches on creations. I imagine the most exciting part of the creation process is making that first one and that the joy diminishes somewhat when you have to mass produce things, even if its on a small scale. I'm sure every creative venture has these little things that are less fun than others and I applaud anyone who can be disciplined enough to stick it out and finish things rather than putting them aside unfinished and moving on to something else.