The last couple canvases I’ve worked on have been hard. In past, even if I started something without any idea of where it was going, there’d be some overarching vibe – like I had some inner focus that drew things out of me in some coherent way. It doesn’t feel that way anymore.
I knew this year, starting after a break of sorts that I was some place new. It’s been harder. I feel like in life I know how I feel about things, but then when I sit in front of the canvas, it’s all more visceral. Like I might have some vague inkling that things aren’t right from day to day, but then I sit to paint and the pain floods me and I can’t ignore it.
Today I had to come face to face with how lost I feel in the topography of my life. I was painting something and trying to feel out where I was going as the unanswerable refrain kept coming back to me – ‘Where am I? And what am I doing?’
My inability to answer these questions didn’t evoke sadness in me. Instead those questions illicited frustrated, exasperated, raw and undeniable anger.
I pulled out my Phaidon collection of Latin American Art to try to tie myself to something. It’s a great collection of work that makes me feel closer to home. In it is a range of expression more familiar to me than a lot of European Art. There’s an anchor there and within all of the great works of Art that I love, that I feel I lack.
It’s as if my life is cut away from its moorings. Sometimes I try to paint but I feel like there’s nothing inside me worth putting on that canvas. Like all I’m doing is applying daubs of paint to canvas instead of making art.
I suppose this is all part of the process.
There has not been a great deal of actual art happening in my life for the past few weeks. Instead I’ve been dealing with the numerous annoying non-arty things that one must do as an artist. With the exhibition fast approaching, I had to bring my work back from Nova Scotia which required un-mounting and shipping. This is the massive disadvantage of working at a large scale on wood panels. I had to leave 4 or 5 pieces behind. Then once back in Kitchener I had to re-mount 6 canvas pieces for the exhibition, frame 3 paper pieces and touch up the 2 large wood pieces that took a little abuse during the shipping. Yesterday I took all of the exhibition pieces to Toronto to Phil’s house since we are going to mount the show next Wednesday. Upon reaching she pointed out that I forgot to affix the hardware for hanging. So I’m gonna have to take care of that next Tuesday night. Crossing fingers all goes according to plan.
The past month though has really been trying. I was simultaneously working on an architectural competition with a friend as well as working all day and doing the various things for the exhibit. Last week my competition buddy and I decided to give up on it. I hate giving up on things, but since letting it go I’ve been able to breathe easier and I can feel the anxiety ebbing away and the creativity flowing back into me.
There were some moments of absolute frustration this month. Between taking 3 buses to the art store to get the right stretcher bars, paying time and again for shipping/storing my art and my art supplies and staying late at work to do invites etc for the exhibition – I really started to question what the hell I was doing. My boyfriend can attest to the slamming of doors, sullen silences and random outbursts of profanity. Why push so hard? I don’t even have a car to move this stuff around myself. I feel sometimes like I’m inflicting my art on my friends – asking for rides, filling their trunks and foisting art I can’t store onto their walls. There were some big WTF moments.
Following the WTF moments though is always the quiet acceptance that this is just something I do. My benevolent and precious friends actually believe in me and love my work, which has made all the difference in the world. I’m an artist and I can’t help it, even when it’s remarkably inconvenient. This is who I am and this is something that I need to do. Doing the leg work to get my work into exhibitions and even writing this blog are crucial to the way that I understand art, which is as a dialogue. To me expressing myself requires an audience of some kind. Having my work shut up in my living room isn’t enough. I want it out in the world and apparently I won’t take no for an answer.
Thanks for tuning in.