GREAT THINGS CAN’T BE SIMPLE! is what I shout at myself every morning. It’s an excellent daily routine. Eat breakfast, drink coffee, scream: YOU’LL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING in the mirror, take a shower, head off to work, wash/rinse/repeat.
Okay, so maybe I don’t always shout self-deprecating things to myself in the morning. Some days I wait until lunch time.
I am struggling with the concept of simplicity. In regards to art: is it more “ART” if you spend 20 hours on a piece versus 20 minutes? What if I do a quick figure study with oil paint as practice and the next day I work on one piece for three hours, only to decide that I like the quick study better? Can I really just slop paint around for ten minutes and consider it more successful than a piece that I spent a long time on? I want to say yes. There is space enough in this world for long, laborious art and quick, impulsive art. For instance, I have difficulty concentrating. I lose interest in my work very quickly. It is not unusual for me to go through five canvases in one painting class while everyone else is just working on one. This is my preferred method, and doesn’t make my work better or worse than anyone else. In this respect, I believe we can learn from each other. It’s okay to take risks and loosen up. Work faster, work less restricted, worry less about the details and more about the process: the feeling of paint against paint, the chaos of creating without even thinking about it. But it’s okay to slow down too. For the messy and careless and semi-lazy (me), it’s a good idea to practice planning and dedicating a lot of time to one piece. But not EVERYTHING has to be complex, ornate, ground-breaking…simple is okay.
If I tell myself that everything I make must be elaborate, then I’m never going to make anything. In fact, if I am to incorporate art-making into my everyday as I have been so desperately striving to do, then I need to be okay with simple. I have my First Friday Scranton show this Friday, June 3rd, 2016. I have most of my work packed up and ready to go, but I’ve been meaning to make more. I started working on a very large embroidery piece – the largest I have ever tried to tackle – and it is lying in a crumpled ball on my floor. I have overwhelmed myself. Every time I try to revisit it, I think of the immense amount of work before me and completely give up. Of course it is important to think big and plan elaborate pieces, but they should come naturally and after you’ve had practice with simple work. Therefore, I am putting the embroidery away for now and starting to work on the simplest thing I can think of: pen drawings on small pieces of paper. I love to draw strangely distorted figures and accompany them with text, but I have been avoiding this practice because my pretentious view of myself as an Artist told me that silly pen drawings that take all of five minutes to make is not “ART” enough. But then I thought..these drawings are the closest thing to myself that I can offer prospective supporters of my work. They are small and simple glimpses into my personal time and space. I have found that people tend to flock to my drawings over any of my other work. And yet I stray away, fearing that I will be viewed as a ‘cartoonist’ rather than an ‘artist.’ But what’s so wrong with that? So I sat down for a few minutes and drew on white paper, and I felt Very Happy. For the rest of this week, I will continue these small, short drawings and try to sell them at my show on Friday. Certainly not for a lot of money, but simply as way to embrace simplicity.