Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Today's topic for discussion is: frustration. One of the things I've discovered is that many artists suffer from this, in fact, I'd go so far as to say that we all do at some point in our artistic development. We get frustrated with our level of progress (or lack of progress) at some point over the course of our artistic lives. I used to hate this kind of frustration. There's nothing worse than feeling that you can do better, knowing that you can do better, and yet, somehow turning out crap after crap after crap work. A bad day in the studio can really put a damper on things, that's for sure, but maybe it doesn't have to be this way. Maybe, we can learn to accept the fact that frustration is just a natural part of the process-it's part of the progression that we all must take along our path to artistic success. Allow me to explain.
If you don't experience this frustration, if you never feel that pain of not doing "well enough" (whatever that happens to mean to you) you will never move ahead in your artistic development. Part of the frustration, part of that feeling that you can "do better" is hidden in the notion that you are about to do better. You are pushing yourself to do better. Your brain is mentally wrapping itself around the idea that "hey, I'm BETTER than this" and that's where the frustration comes in. Wise artists tell us that, just before a breakthrough, usually comes a period of "oh, damn! This is so *not* working!" and, I hate to say it, but, yes, yes, as you could guess, the harder the "this is not working!" the stronger the breakthrough. Unfortunately, you must sink pretty deeply sometimes to rise up above that surface.
I think the important thing here is to remember that we all experience frustration. Technique doesn't always fall out in the wash. We sometimes have to struggle to get results. The trick is learning to accept the fact that, yes indeed, we will get them. Results will come at some point, it's just a matter of working through the frustration. So, maybe the next time you feel frustrated as an artist, the next time you are *that much* away from throwing in the towel, waving your hands, and just giving up, stop and think about it. Maybe you're just about to have your biggest breakthrough. Hey, don't laugh, it too could happen to you.
When I first started making this piece, I didn't really like it. I thought I would start off with just a totally white board and then I had some red paint on the brush so, first swipe and everything came out pink. Oh no! Horror of horrors! Pink! What was I thinking? I worked through this though, I kept going, kept hoping things would work. I ended up with a big red splotch in the middle of the piece but then I kind of liked that too-it looked at first like a heart to me. I thought, "wow, this is....this is getting interesting..." the more I worked through it, the more I just sucked it up and tried to move on, the more the piece started, well, working for me. Now, it's one of my favorites from the weekend. I just like it. I like the tones of colors (the "pink" is actually kind of nice!) and the big red splotch. I turned the board around and then thought it looked like a big red fish, so that's what I named the piece: "Red Fish." It's got lots of little dents and crooks in it but that's part of the appeal. It's not perfect-nothing is, but it, well it just works for me now.
Fishing is really laying in wait with the right bait. When we go fishing, we never know what we are going to catch. Some days? Maybe a tasty dinner. Other days? Maybe an old rubber boot littering the bottom of the lake. Fishing is like that. Art is like that. Sometimes, the best we can do is to sort of "go fish" and hope for the best. Throw our line into the stream and hope to come up with something better than the last time.
I hope you get to fish too, in whatever it is that you do in your life. I hope you get to experience the joy of creativity, the creative process and all, but I hope you also get to enjoy some of the fish side too-you know, the "take what you can get" aspect of it. And, I certainly hope you get to work through your frustrations, whatever they might be, that are standing the way or blocking you from doing what it is that you get to do in your day to day life.
Enough ramblings for one day, time for me to get back into the studio and I do hope to see you and, well, some "fish" as part of the East Austin Studio Tour this year. If you are in the Austin area, please stop by and say hello.
Until next time...