Last week my ten-year-old daughter and I were playing with clay. She made a flower and said, “It’s not that good.” I paused and then told her, “Lola, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. What matters is that you make things.” She got a big smile on her face and said, “Thank you daddy. That makes me very happy.”
I’m learning that my opinion of my work is irrelevant. Paintings of mine I think are atrocious others love. And pieces I think are my best are met with luke-warm indifference. I experience crushing feelings and emotions about my work. One day I am Michelangelo and the next I am Leroy Nieman. These thoughts, as real as they feel at the time, are completely ephemeral in nature. They have nothing to do with the works themselves; they’re all just noises in my head.
About a month ago I decided to work freely. I’ve attempted to ignore the voices in my head and hopefully avoid getting frozen in analyzation of what I am making. I wanted to see what would happen if I intuitively followed my impulse. As a result I’ve been making a lot. The following are a few selections of what I have made over this period.
First, I made these:
I was initially happy with them. But I was getting very tired of the ethereal quality my work has had the last year. (If I hear myself saying that my work explores where our energetic and physical selves meet once again I’m going to poke my eyes out with a pencil.) So I attempted to go for the jugular:
These two embarrassed me. Maudlin much? So I tried something different keeping some of the colors from the pieces above.
I got tired of the darkness of these. And they reminded me a bit of Green Lantern. I started seeing a pinkish-redish color when I closed my eyes. This led to the pieces below:
I liked the intensity of these. I attempted to push it further:
I was surprised how reminiscent of Francis Bacon these were. I then noticed a painting I had made a few weeks ago:
I decided to explore this one some more and made the following:
I then started seeing a emerald color when I closed my eyes. This led to this piece:
Bizzarre. But I was responding positively too it. That red in the center was bothering me. I wanted that red to show up in other areas of the panel. So I made this:
Muddy. I tried another using three layers as opposed to four layers of silk:
Following the bizarre impulse I decided to try some other colors:
I then began to grow tired of the intensity of color I was using and decided to try something more somber:
I don’t know if any of these are successful yet. I’m looking forward to seeing them with a fresh eye in about a month or so. I recently read a quote of Martha Graham’s: “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”