Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not An Invitation

I just talked last night on the phone to a fellow artist about my next project and about taking older stories and retelling them with a newer issue.
I said that the problem I'm having right now is that people always assume I am my work. It's why I stopped writing actually...whatever I wrote people would ask me about it. If I wrote about two girls in love people would ask if I was gay. If I wrote about drinking people would ask if I was an alcoholic. If I wrote about drugs, I was junkie.
So I'm having a little trouble with the idea of addressing specific issues because people seem to think my artwork - merely existing - is invitation to talk or ask about my life.

It's okay if you just paint a pretty picture. That's what you have and nobody assumes anything. But if you paint anything with a darker twist, people immediately ask you if you suffer from depression or a variety of other diseases.

I have great ideas/issues for the next two series of works I am concentrating on but I'm juggling with the idea of merely retelling the tales without new influence to avoid facing public speculation.

But what kind of artist can live like that?

I gave up my writing (though I do have to admit, after many years, I am writing in my mind again) due to this jumbled mess of speculation. But I will not stop my art for that.

Which means....
Really, *sincerely*, being able to not care about rumours or misguided people in my life.
It means being okay with a small town thinking one particular way about me.
It means ignoring emails from family when they decide to brave up and ask ridiculous questions.

My friend, on the phone, said (rightly) that I have to go with what drives me.
And what drives me right now is the way the story fits, so well, to the issue I am addressing. And to the people that - in turn - this series may reach.

I would love for my art to be more than a pretty picture.
I would like for my pieces to start having meaning for people (like share your tears does)

So I think I'm going to run with what feels right for the art, not for me or for the general mass.
I think I'm just going to have to deal (or hide in my ivory tower and ignore) any speculation afterward.

Because surely, surely, the voice of creation is more important than the voice of speculation.


colours said...

I understand, I really do. I wish it were different for you.

Follow your heart and your gut instinct though and you can not fail.

Or if you are like me, have fun with people. ;)

Play with peoples expectations - paint gay women and children having sex - shock people and laugh at them.

When they come back to you and ask why, tell them why not. You merely painted the picture, they are the ones standing before it, choosing to look at it and question it.


Kay said...

Why not? You do more than merely paint a picture.

A letter to my daughter.

Tell the stories that must be told. Paint the artworks that must be painted. Ask yourself why you paint... if it is to please others, unless *that* is the paid job that supports your *real art*, then you are painting for the wrong reasons.

The eternal struggle... to paint what drives you, or to paint what sells. Always, always, paint what drives you. You are the vehicle for what must be said. The art of a time reflects society more accurately than the history books do. Now artists document their work more comprehensively; there will be fewer errors when it is read in times to come.

If you must, take a job to support your art. If that job can be another branch of your art, all the better. But never, ever, compromise your driven art. It cripples, stifles, distorts one's life.

There are many parts to a public artwork: the intention and skill of the artist, resulting in the actual work; the viewer who brings a whole set of experiences, expectations and points of view to that viewing; the gap in between these which is an ever moving, changing space. What happens in that gap is beyond your control. That point of interaction is where the value of the artwork is, and yes, completely beyond what happens in the studio.

Look only at the part that you do control. Your studio is that world. Put on your music, burn the incense, dance and paint. Paint for all the right reasons, paint because you have something to say.

You are talented, focussed, and open. Stay that way... and when the critics try to understand you, and begin to undermine you, turn off the computer (but still call your mother sometimes!)