On making my art AND on making myself as an artist.

There are times when I doubt myself as an artist. Well many times if I’m to be frank. (‘Glad you’re being Frank’ I can almost hear my children chorusing).  It usually comes right about when I have to fill in an application form for an exhibition submission to a gallery. I’m starting to build up the CV of previous exhibition experiences. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people I consider part of my tribe who have welcomed my emerging art status.

The part I most often trip over is the ‘schooling’ bit. I’ve done some tertiary study it just wanted in relevant areas or even completed. I’d like to imagine that I’ve picked up the odd relevant thing in my 44 years of life though.

So this is where I feel somewhat in limbo. I’m 44 years old so I’m not newly-realised-into-the-world-kind-of-emerging but I’m certainly not seasoned-showing-my-art experienced either. I don’t even feel near the middle. I’ll concede to feeling 30% of the way. On a side note, I heard recently that most people experience doubt about projects etc at the 30% in and 30% to go marks. Maybe that helps explain it.

I’ve never formally studied any art. Local living and learning centre courses of which I’ve done a few years worth, apparently don’t count. I’ve a friend who started painting with me around the same time I did. She’s now in her second course studying Fine Art at a fine tertiary institution. I’ve had chats with her about this and I can’t say it draws me towards incurring a substantial higher education debt for a few lines on an application. I struggle with conceptual art and find myself alienated from of abstract, performance and even video art. Even the world installation can be off-putting.

I would like to increase my practical knowledge about techniques and different media and even relish the idea of associating with fellow creatives on a regular basis but this appears not to be the real situation in most tertiary education facilities.

Occasionally I browse a short course, adult education catalogue and see what is offered. Then usually I jump to the more immediate YouTube to satisfy my curiosity. I am aware that there are many things that I might learn from fellow students as well as my teacher in a class situation that I may never discover from YouTube alone but instant gratification usually wins out. I also like the small but useful tricks of rewinding, pausing and bookmarking sections where I want to study in more detail. The internet provides an incredible wealth of information about the technical side of certain mediums, though I also hit up the art supply store peeps too.

 It’s great to get out of a solo art studio and chat to someone else who is so enthusiastic about the minutiae of art mediums and the Melbourne art scene, as the lovely people at some of my favourite art supply stores. I found myself once having an in depth conversation about particular pigments days after walking past an impressive wall of wisteria – a scene that wouldn’t leave my mind. I needed to paint it you understand.

So I try not to over-think these things (an expression I heard from a friend a few years ago and I immediately knew what she meant). The way to make art and therefore makes myself as an artist is to just keep turning up at the easel.



What’s the hurry?

Answers and decisions don’t always have to be instant. Though I will confess to generally knowing straight away which way I’ll go. I don’t believe it’s procrastination (it’s pre-thinking – see previous post dated Nov 18 2013.)

Maybe I’m mulling over the exact wording of my response and that is the reason I haven’t replied to your IM, text message or email.
Maybe I have nothing to say (unlikely).
Maybe I finally heeded my mother’s words – if you’ve nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
Maybe I’m trying to see things from your point of view. This is happening far more as I get older. What’s that expression about the youth knowing everything and as we age we become wise enough to realise how little we truly know.
Maybe I got distracted by something bright and shiny – a distinct possibility.

This is related to the acknowledgement that there is very little virtue in busyness itself. We can be busy being distracted from things as much as we can by things. Multi-tasking is a myth. Some of us are just very capable of rapidly switching between tasks. We can’t actually multi-task. So why try?
Be mindful of the task at hand. Enjoy the singularity of one task, one project, one job.

This ties in to the second part of the title. Disconnect. Granted, I may not actually turn off my phone but I’ve started leaving it in a different room, occasionally leaving it in the car (albeit accidentally at times). Deliberately I have also started leaving it at home sometimes when I go for a walk and then I find myself noticing things. I notice the way the sun glints off the leaves of a particular tree making it appear to sparkle and wonder how I might capture such a thing in a painting.

The amount of times I’ve caught myself not engaging with a movie on TV because I’m distracted by my laptop or phone has even started to annoy me. So I’m trying to wean myself off it. Naturally, if it’s a semi-decent movie to begin with then it’s much easier. I’ve recently starting selling products related to my art but it’s not heart or brain surgery so none of my emails are really THAT important.

In our household, phones are banned from dinnertime (and frankly always have been). That rule is non-negotiable, even for guests. We are all surviving that easily enough so clearly this disconnection thing is possible.