Showing posts with label solitude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solitude. Show all posts

July 14, 2016

The Killer of Imagination

I think I've been wrong.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin

What can I say. Some people who know me intimately will think that's very funny. But yes, I think I've been, I mean I know I've been overly self-conscious, which is the killer of imagination and impulse. All my musing about muses and audience can't possibly be right. I don't need more people looking over my shoulder, I need less.

We should learn to be our own muses is my new motto. 

I have been away from the studio for probably the longest stretch since moving to Beacon, NY two years ago. I've worked hard in that time, making over 25 paintings and countless works on paper, so I very much needed this break... At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
It all started with this year's Beacon Open Studios at the end of May. I spent two full days gibbering to strangers (and friends) about my artwork. Something a lot of us who participated in the event noticed was that after a while of describing your work to people, you start repeating yourself over and over. The same descriptive words start flying out of your mouth. And you hear yourself saying things you never heard before. You're like, oh, so that's what my work is really about!!

So what did I hear myself saying all day for two days straight? That my paintings were in a transition phase, that they weren't exactly the kind of paintings I wanted to be making but somehow they needed to be made, that they were more formal and more figurative than I wanted them to be. Although I had very positive feedback, I found my own self-effacing comments very revealing. It was clear to me that that series of paintings was done with. But what to do next? And why did I need to make all those paintings that now felt forced and untruthful?

So, I've been away from it for a while.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
The timing has been impeccable since I did just move, and moving as we all know, is hell. But now I'm ready to go back and I can't imagine what to do.

For starters, I've decided to refrain from sharing works in progress, so you probably won't see any new photographs for a while. In this age of sharing every second of our lives with everyone on the planet, I've suddenly found myself needing some privacy.  

I have a lot of work to do. Whatever it is that's been keeping me from the most truthful work I can possibly make has got to go! So I may need to close off the world for a bit, hole up in the studio and not come out till I figure something out. 

 
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin



Promise I won't be MIA for too long..............




March 5, 2015

the next best thing to COMMUNITY

Gilbert and George
Preparing yourself to paint on canvas must be similar to an actor getting ready to perform. You've got to get totally inside your head and be in control but completely lost in it at the same time.

My husband has been wanting to make a film of me painting. It's been a long time that I've been saying no to him because I would much rather paint than have to talk about me painting. I am under the impression that if I were very good at speaking in general I wouldn't have become a visual artist. He insisted I wouldn't have to speak, so finally last week I said yes and he showed up to my studio with cameras in tow. Some artists don't mind other people around them while they work but I am not one of them. I spent the day self-consciously fake posing and got absolutely no work done! No surprise there.

What I hadn't realized, though, until that moment was just how wonderful it is to have not only the ability but the contentment to work by oneself all day long.

It is such a luxury to have a private art studio. That being said... at the same time it does occasionally get a little lonely. Standing on your feet alone in a closed room for five or so hours a day does eventually take its toll and can lead to a bit of urgent restlessness. Sometimes I wonder how I or anyone else can take it.

My studio building is extremely quiet. It really needs a community room for those of us solitary workers who need some company every once in a while.

I've been having this conversation with a lot of different people lately.  
People like me, who need the solitude to work but who also desire a proper community to engage with at the end of the day. 
A community we haven't exactly found yet. Sometimes I wish I had been an artist 50 years ago when like minded artists really were all actually starving and huddled together out of necessity and common interest. When there were no second jobs making everyone too busy to visit each others studios or contemplate their purpose in life.

Triadic Ballet
I'm told social media is the new stand-in for real community these days but I'm having trouble completely believing that.

Take Jerry Saltz for instance. For the last eight years New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz has been actively engaged in lively art dialogue with his almost 5000 followers on Facebook. He's described it as a 21st century Cedar Tavern or Max's Kansas City. Of course as I write this several of Jerry's 'friends' have just gotten him temporarily kicked off the site for images they disapproved of. It would've been much more fun to see some real fists thrown over the debate, but all this is to say we take what we can get these days.

I like Jerry's page. I've occasionally chimed in to some of his discussions, and for a while it was definitely feeling very real and prescient, however, there's something off-putting about not knowing exactly who you are having an argument with. It's hard to keep up an active conversation with an endless barrage of obscure little profile pictures of people you know nothing about. You could find out you're arguing with an artist whose work you love or with someone who isn't even an artist and just likes to argue with people on Facebook. Or you could start to think that you're actually friends with some of your 'friends' only to find out they disagree with pretty much everything you stand for.

James Ensor
I'm a big fan of Facebook but at the same time it leaves me with a bad after-taste, a virtual, non-reality tinny zing. I am certain that so much of the dialogue on Facebook is mere virtual dialogue and sometimes I just want to look someone in the face when I talk to them.

Community.
There are a ridiculously large number of separate definitions for the word, some involving physically living close to one another and others referring to the idea of unification, common interests, etc.
Wikipedia states
A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. Although face-to-face communities are usually small, larger or more extended communities such as a national community, international community and virtual community are also studied.
The article goes on to discuss identity, intent and belief.

artists @ Blue Mountain Center. photo Karin Hayes
Further contemplating the idea of communities that do not require a computer hookup, I decided to look up Artist Residencies in the hopes of finding an environment where groups of artists actually commune in person, at least temporarily. After serious research I've discovered there are about a million Artist Residencies all over the world also called Artist Communities, Communes, Colonies, Collectives, or Retreats. They exist just about everywhere for every genre, purpose, belief and intent! Most of them, however, do emphasize the luxury of isolation in lovely tranquil settings.


artists @ Blue Mountain Center. photo Shelly Silver
So far out of the hundreds of Artist Residencies that I've perused, only a handful of descriptions have mentioned hanging out with the other artist residents. Project 387 in northern California boasts a community driven "creative exchange around the dinner table and in the studio". I like that.
Headlands, also in California, offers a "dynamic community of artists... allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop". Also a winner.
Blue Mountain Center in upstate New York goes so far as to state, "by the end of the session many of our most solitary, introverted residents are loath to lose the comforts of communal living". Now that I like the sound of.

In the long run I suppose there are plenty of artist communities out there in the world. I want to say that globalization has somehow homogenized the world and made it more difficult to have an authentic identity, intent and belief. I want to say that the internet could never be a good enough or suitable replacement for real life community and that there's nothing that could replace actual physical interaction between people... but,
I do realize I am typing this on my computer and will at some point click a button that will send these words virtually across the planet. I may even get a few comments from people I've never met and probably never will. For now I'll take what I can get. I'll probably check my Facebook as soon as I write this. Maybe I'll send out a few applications this week. I might even inquire about that community room for my studio building...

You can visit my Facebook page here
or better yet, visit my studio in real life at
211 Fishkill Ave. #206C,
Beacon, New York



November 20, 2013

SOLITUDE



Maybe this is something to address since it keeps popping up. It appears as a major theme in two books I'm currently reading, Rainer Marie Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet and Mary Oliver's Blue Pastures; and it has inadvertently become the topic of several recent phone conversations...

S O L I T U D E
Photos by French artist Maia Flore

The dictionary is really down in the dumps about this word, citing examples of losing loved ones, being put in isolation with infectious diseases, etc. How awful. As an artist I can tell you, solitude is not that bad, in fact it is a much sought after state of being.

You still feel alone when you're by yourself, but when that aloneness becomes a necessary factor to the type of concentration and self reflection that creativity demands, it becomes a very welcome occasion. The idea of being alone with one's thoughts seems absolutely divine to me, and being able to work on my artwork when I want without interruption is pure joy.

Maybe it's not even just artists who feel this way. My friend was just telling me how her kids are so busy all year her daughter recently told her she didn't know who she was anymore because she didn't have a minute to think about it... Obviously we all need those moments to reconnect with ourselves.

from the series Situations by Maia Flore

I think artists just require more of those moments because of the work we do. If we don't know who we are, where is our voice or our vision? And without a clear vision what would our artwork be..

This is what artwrestling is all about!

.....and I guess it comes at no better time because no sooner did I write it down than I spent the whole day today being distracted by phone calls and emails. My daughter read her homework OUT LOUD for half an hour, and my husband has been pacing the floors waiting for me to cook dinner extra early. It's only 3:30! I'm not even doing the type of artwork that I imagine requires that much concentration but every watery mark I make is followed by me having to get up for something. I'm telling myself this is what you get for thinking you could pull this off on the kitchen table...Tomorrow I'll start earlier, but....Hold on, the rice is ready~


Maia Flore