07 October 2009
Fear of Art
"...you're probably accustomed to watching your work unfold smoothly enough for long stretches of time, until one day--for no immediately apparent reason--it doesn't. Hitting that unexpected rift is commonplace to the point of cliche, yet artists commonly treat each recurring instance as somber evidence of their own personal failure..." Art and Fear
I just requested this book from the library today. It's kind of a cult classic among artists and I've read it before, but I need to read it again. Every so often I freeze up in my art making process and then my task becomes doing whatever it takes to get myself working again. I know this book will help, and I thought that maybe blogging about it would help, too.
This freeze seems to have emerged from a number of factors. A rush of illustration jobs has kept me away from the studio for several weeks, which can cause blocks even if there are no other issues. This absence from the studio has come at a critical point in the flow of my Pilgrim project, though. I'm just now facing a transition in the flow of the work from one point of view (the Pilgrims) to another (the native Americans) and it's daunting. Whatever I do with this next print will set the tone for the subsequent ones, so it feels like a lot of pressure.
Then there are the simple rigors of daily life, the stress of a sick dog, household things that need to be taken care of, family obligations, visitors from out of town, teaching a workshop -- all things that become excuses for why I can't focus on working.
And then there's the sudden influx of good news. I was just notified that not only was American Bible Story accepted for the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Studio show, it was also accepted for inclusion in the IPCNY New Prints 2009/Autumn show. All of this is wonderful news and I'm very very happy. And I feel just a little secretly afraid that I won't be able to make any more work that will measure up.
"To the artist, art is a verb." Art & Fear
All these are reasons to get into the studio and get moving. Tonight I dampened some big sheets of Nishinouchi and finished carving the sky block for the Vast Unpeopled Lands print.
The next step is to do some printing, even before I carve all the blocks. This one is resisting pre-planning. Seems that I just need to feel my way into this, let the print teach me how to print it. Is that scary, or what? Which is why I need this book, to remind me that this is how it's supposed to feel.
"Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending. The risks are obvious; you may never get to the end of the sentence at all - or having gotten there, you may not have said anything. This is probably not a good idea in public speaking, but it's an excellent idea in making art." Art & Fear