Today is an off the cuff blog post. Hurricane Matthew unraveled me more that I'd like to admit. As many artists know, obession is the name of the game in an artist's life, and although my home wasn't affected thankfully, I still have two 75 foot trees, and a number of smaller trees down in my yard. The tree workers were diligently cleaning up so I am not complaining, or am I. In order to get the power on they placed large (ginormous) platforms in the yard to stabilize the big trucks to cut the trees in order to get our power back up. From the studio window I see this mess daily. My recent trip to Atlanta reminded me of just how much is going on in the art world. Also, this is application season, and I am trying to make some etchings without access to a press.
Realizing the reality was to focus on the studio work in front of me, my decision was to concentrate. Although it seems I am really focused on art and the artists issues of the Savannah community, which I am, I can also spend hours watching Steve Harvey clips, and African dance and wedding clips, among other Youtube distractions, and reading numerous lengthy texts about art history. I used to read about African American politics, slavery, and other 18th century historical figures, but I've stopped that, somewhat. I obsessively watch American and foreign films too, and lately started writing lengthy reviews about them on Amazon. Currently, I am reading 33 Artists in 33 Acts, by Sarah Thornton which is a good read, so far.
Did I say I was obsessive, well let me share a couple more. I collect water and have 5, 65 gallon tubs in my yard, and two rain collectors. The tubs which we got from the car wash are unofficial (to be discarded, eventually), the rain catchers are official. In a storm, I will set up buckets on the patio, then stand over the rain barrells with a tilted umbrella to try to catch more rain. I had gutters installed that water runs directly to the rain catchers. Now I must empty the rain into the barrels to make more room for new water during a storm. So there are no mosquitos, I have goldfish in the tubs which are now really pets. My adult children think that is just what moms do, since I do it so often.
My father was obsessive, which I inherited, and any time something broke, my dad would put on his jewelers glasses and repair it. My younger sister commented that if he was a superhero he'd be named, The Piddler, since we always know when he has been in a room by his numerous miniscule adjustments. I inherited the knack for jigsawing tiny shards of broken pots together.
Another obsession, collecting broken stuff, fixing it, and locating somewhere to put it in the house. After the storm I came across a 300 pound concrete planter thrown out by the hospital. With some concrete, the patience of Job, and the artistry of puzzling, I plan to make it look new. We are currently working on other pieces of furniture as well.
I blame this next obsession on being from an academic background. This is the number one obsession, learning about other artists, emergent, established, historical, and artists from any continent. I am amazed when other artists don't do this. Yet secretly I do this with artists from other venues like musicians, actors, poets, filmmakers. I learn all about about their process, their theory, and their list of accomplishments. I could open a library with all the gallery cataloges, magazines, and books I've collected. I commit names to memory, study as many pieces I can find. Admittedly I am an art groupie. Truth is, all of this distracts from time spent on work in my own studio.
Being a painter is a full time job. It requires focus so that each idea can grow into the next, and so that mistakes can be corrected. In the studio, I build and prime canvases, mix paint, take images of the work, draw, plan and promote. The obsessions can feed my work, however I am often in the habit of allowing the obsessions to take precedence. I said all this to say that focus in the studio is imperative, out of the studio I am a basket case.
In the next weeks I will be cleaning my my online presence. In the work I am producing currently, it makes sense to place it in a platform that allows for more comprehensive reading. I look forward to getting the etchings done, steering away from nagging little pieces that take me a lot of time but get little attention, and concentrating on larger scale paintings.
For all who struggle with the same obsession I have talked about please read Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, it gives licence to what I just called crazy.
Thank you all for reading if you want to share comments just email me .