Thursday, July 14, 2011

Abstract Like Whoa

It's 2:30 pm, Mike D. is rapping about White Castle, and I'm staring at my desk thinking of the fifty most efficient ways to destroy my drawing. I tend to be too cerebral - my fears and anxieties get the best of me when looking at my creative output. My drawing is complete, yet I'm agonizing over how this piece fits in with my existing body of work and how the audience will receive it. I'm sure all you artists out there can relate to this post-creative remorse. How do you get around it? I can't exactly prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution, but I can tell you what's working for me.
My friend E., he's a fellow artist and a great person to bounce ideas off of. A few weeks ago, I sent E. some portraits I recently completed, and twenty-four hours later received a text suggesting I dive into the realm of abstraction for a while. Was he f*^king smoking crack?!  Of course I had a feeling I was taking his response a bit too literally, surely he was not suggesting I abandon my knack for figurative expressions and dive into the pool of nonobjective abstraction? He called me a few days later and it went a little something like this:

Me: "Abstract like how?"
E: "Whoa. Are you upset?"
Me: "No. Abstract like what? Like color forms on canvas?"
E: "No, I mean that maybe you should get out of your current mindset and approach the figure in a more abstract manner."
Me: "Oh, okay. I thought you meant it in a totally different way, like give up figurative works."
E: "No, I think that you need to be more free with it, don't get all inside your head."
Me: "Well, I'm always worried about how the representation of the forms plays against my urge to be loose and expressive. I want the line to define, but also to be flowing, it doesn't really work both ways. And I was reading this Matisse interview..."
E: "I f*^king hate Matisse."
Me: "Yeah, but he was saying how complete representation is for photography, and the artist should have a more personal reaction to the subject matter."
E: "You need to stop reading those f*^king books and have fun making art. Be a kid again. You got a paper and pen?"
Me: "Yeah"
E: "Okay here's what I want you to do. One: make a complete drawing using your opposite hand, no eraser. Two: Put some music on and just draw, don't think about it, just draw. Three: make a self portrait with elbow macaroni. Four: get a f*^king coloring book and fill the whole thing."

List of assignments in hand, I set off to be a kid again. It seems that having goals frees me from the struggle of deciding what or why I am drawing. After knocking out an assignment, the inspiration continues, the creative juices flow, and I can't wait to start the next drawing(unassigned). Dodging the pitfalls of worry and anxiety, the pencil rapidly shifts from one page to the next. The ink flows, the colors dance, the post-creative remorse lifts, and I sign my work with a smile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the artwork...the commentary is equally fascinating. It so accurately and honestly exhibits the fears and anxieties many face when they experience the (hopefully temporary) psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece (or several pieces). I often find I block myself when I try to do something well or within a particular idea or concept opposed to just putting on some music and going at it with no boundries; using your left hand a nice idea too, which inherently causes you to do things (and think) differently (assuming you’re a righty)….thanks for the inspiration. It should be fun…otherwise might as well get used to hammering nails or carrying a briefcase, watching American Idol on your fat ass with the rest of Revolutionary Road USA.