Monday, 30 January 2012

The Ego

After attempting to paint "how I feel" onto canvas it became patently obvious how difficult this was going to be.
I haven't painted for ages. I haven't painted how I feel since I was a teenager! Bearing this in mind there are also lots of levels to this difficulty.
Being averse to imagery an abstract sense of my emotions emerged and perhaps it's a little too vague or subjective to access. When I look at what I've made I can't make any judgement of quality. I have no reference points for this. When I'm drawing I am researching, it is ongoing and temporal and in process. Painting on to a canvas with oils is so determined before you begin. I am constantly searching through the painting activity but it's all so finite and there is the end product contained in that dreadful, ominous, rectangle.
It would be fair to say I am struggling. Struggle is good, however, today I am reeling from reading a very old review that I hadn't seen before and it wasn't a very generous one. The woman reviewing my work and the event it was part of was incredibly dismissive and complaining, almost whiny. I abhor that sort of criticism. It's difficult enough to read glib comments about contemporary art being pretentious when it's written by Daily Mail bigots but from one of your own, a fellow artist, well that is harsh. I took it completely personally, naturally and have been obsessing about this badly written review based on opinion rather than sound reasoning all day (incidentally, uploaded onto a forum at least a two years ago.... get a grip Heaney).
It does leave you open, this art malarky. Not everyone is going to approach the work with the same integrity and dedication that it was made with and it would be impossible to reach all audiences (first lesson in self preservation). And maybe it's ok for folk to hate it. But hate it with style - PLEASE!
As a small consolation there also exists a very thorough, intelligent review of the work in question so I might just go and read that again to boost my ego.........

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Brand new year. I woke up with ideas about drawing feet and walking and a buzzing need to research. My new obsession - Sylvia Plath. It's so funny that my teenage self was so absorbed in her journals and letters and word craft that I completely missed the importance of her passion for visual art.
I've rooted around a little. Trying very hard not to get too excited and carried away lest my enthusiasm peaks too soon and the 'what's the point' voice chimes in... I've found a bit of writing about how wide her creative method was. She combined visual responses with lyrical expression, she plundered her own teenage drawings for inspiration and sourced ideas from favourite painters.
I'm experiencing a real familiarity with the dilemma between following art or literature. I often have to be strict with myself about using text in my drawings (and have attempted to explore a wider concept of how text speaks more directly than marks....a later discussion of this might arise from this research?). The other startling discovery was, as I returned from a cold, unyielding Dartmoor visit with the dog was (apart from her poem - New Year on Dartmoor) a quote - which I'm afraid I can't provide any reference for - in which she discusses another dilemma of mine: the use of the personal in a work and how to refrain from making this a turgid, indulgent navel gaze.

“I think my poems immediately come out of the sensuous and emotional experiences I have, but I must say I cannot sympathize with these cries from the heart that are informed by nothing except a needle or a knife, or whatever it is. I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences—even the most terrific, like madness, being tortured, this sort of experience—and one should be able to manipulate these experiences with an informed and an intelligent mind. I think that personal experience is very important, but certainly it shouldn't be a kind of shut-box and mirror looking, narcissistic experience.”

I think this is the tip of a lovely big, interesting, engaging ice-berg for me. I don't know if you're reading this anyone but right now I am soooooooo happy. Sylvia Plath has given me a project.

The Embodied Experience of Drawing 2018

A short glimpse into The Embodied Experience of Drawing  2018 Credit: Stuart Bewsey