Wednesday, November 28, 2007

those spiritual aims

We were recently talking about how we can carry on with our work without big loans and trust funds, and in turn, the various ways by which people measure our “commitment.”

One thing m. said on a recent visit here to PDX which still RINGS in my ears... was something to the effect of: if you're an artist, you can't stop it. You have no choice, it's what you do.

And this is 100% true. Whatever the circumstance, no matter how much or little the money, the space, the materials, art will get made. It might not get shown. It might not get discussed, reviewed. It may never “matter’ to those who importantly opine. It might be some tiny bit of transformed paper you carry around in your pocket. But it gets made. And this, to use a new phrase, is what separates the adults from the kids.

Not about this year – I am talking about a lifetime. Because it is not that difficult to have a good idea this year and have the will to make it happen. Time has, however, a funny way to weeding out the force of the will.

I remember this especially because the person who told me that I should screw the banks and my landlord and that none of it mattered next to art making, the person who lambasted my spiritual aims since I still had a day job and no, could not quit it to just paint for several years, well: he went bankrupt. Just thought I would finish out that story.

There is, however, some indication that he will revive, like the phoenix. But he found out that even great “spiritual aims” can falter when the trust fund dries up.

21 comments:

m. said...

bang on.

people who are not driven to follow their bliss no matter what the obstacles will always have their excuses.

they haven't learned that with determination and patience and insight, obstacles, one way or another--either by force or by following an alternate route--always, every time, magically turn themselves into allies, co-conspirators in the mystery that is artistic creation.

when i had an 80 to 120 hour a week job plus the art their excuse was, "oh m., you don't need to sleep like the rest of us."

and then when i socked away and invested the money from the job and quit to go back to full time art, their excuse quickly turned on its heel to, "oh m., but you don't have a 'real' job getting in the way."

'real' job phooey. few jobs get as real as art, and i've had plenty up and down the line of the status chain right down to the very bowels of what a human will touch for less than minimum wage and on up, up, up to the boardroom.

at the end of the day i chalk up all the counter-static to the fact that those of us who keep moving forward towards our individual bliss (even after what seem to be major setbacks) will always be besieged by those who do not.

and do i feel sorry for those people? only enough to give my favorite piece of free advice which comes to me by way of my painter friend korey gulbrandson (who, in character, credits someone else who told it to him), and which these poor souls will no doubt come up with every reason in the world not to absorb, for it lays out the heady freedom with which we are all endowed...

but here it is anyway for the bazillionth time:

there are two speeds.

two.

doin it. and not doin it.

Anonymous said...

what separates the adults from the kids...is that a new phrase? I always want to say "run along little children, call me in 20 years and let me know how well it went" but I never have the guts and I figure I'll get to see it first hand anyway if i stick around long enough.

Anonymous said...

hey anonymous.. thanks for joining us....that phrase comes from man-child dude from the ether, in this previous post and commentary....


Eva

Anonymous said...

it's me, your friend the painter...

Fish or Cut Bait said...

I wonder when the idea of the "tortured soul" became connected with John Q. Public's distorted and romanticized notion of fine art?

It just ain't right.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steven,

I am not exactly sure when it happened... did Van Gogh have something to do with it?

Someone (not an artist) brought him up the other day, what a hard life he had, how he never sold a painting, etc. I cannot dismiss the mental problems but I said back: "His brother was an art dealer. He supported him his whole life. He didn't sell shoes." - And we were off and running. Those facts had everything to do with his production as an artist.

E

man-child dude from the æther said...

My experience regarding this matter has been fairly straightforward: when I've taken advice from others, I've been lead to very tedious, unfulfilling endeavors. When I've followed my own counsel, I've been pulled, pushed, absorbed, attracted, attracting, centered into endeavors which seem to run a full spectrum of creative ecstasy to a laborious tedium that resembles the joy of doing; not to be confused with mania/depression. The endeavors requiring whimsy, creative impulses, discipline, focus, repetition, labor intensiveness, attention to details at both the macro and micro levels, etc. all end up at the same terminus: an eternal timeless meditation, a place where I feel fully alive, unaware of any passing moments. What I've also noticed is this can occur during events that seem non-participatory in nature, merely observational, but somehow achieve a feeling of extreme wakefulness, aliveness, those moments for which Chris Alexander calls Quality without a name; from the timeless way of building:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Christopher_Alexander

Keep the tedium to a medium...

Fish or Cut Bait said...

dear man-child dude from the æther,

it is not often that I read a comment more then once, but with your permission, I'd like to turn that into a post on my blog (what with links and images etc).

man-child dude from the æther said...

Fish or Cut Bait,

Feel free to use this comment in any way. I'm glad it could be generative for something. Best regards to one and all...

keep the tedium to a medium...unless your medium is the tedium!

Anonymous said...

man-child dude from the ether,

You are so right about this. Generally a big mistake when I ask for advice! I was surprised when Mark Kostabi said he actually took polls about where a work was going. It applies to many other things. Even while this catalogue got made, I had to stop listening to opinion/input and remember to please myself....
E

Anonymous said...

I think the poll thing is ok as long as that in the end you can feel confident that you can use the opinions to serve your own ideas about the work. i sometimes ask for opinions only to dimiss it in the end because what i'm after has nothing to do with the reasons someone is happy or not with the work. it's that slippery slope when your friend says that the work is fine and you are still disatisfied so you do what you have to do to make it yours.

Anonymous said...

I also think the poll thing can be OK... provided the person polling knows where/when to draw the line and is using it more as some kind of fishing experiment. And also, they are not drawing their sense of validation from it. Unfortunately I did not always. ...


E

beebe said...

Sadly, I need that drag of the day job to keep myself motivated. Eight hours of work, followed by four in the studio seems to work best for me. I am a somewhat graduate of grad school and--with very few exceptions--the least interesting artists (and the ones who spent the least amount of time in the studio) were the ones who were NOT working to put themselves through school, the ones who subsisted on gratuitous loans or parental help or trust funds.

Anonymous said...

Beebe,

I agree that nothing provides a great work ethic so well as need.

This also reminds me of when I ran across an artist in the 90s whom I had known almost ten years before. By then he was only reading art periodicals, going to art bars and every single activity was related to the art career. Not necessarily art, but the art career. I remember thinking that I sure as hell couldn’t talk to him about the slew of Thomas Hardy novels I was reading, or my day job (which was in service to others completely).

I still think that day job and those novels made an impact in my art making, but I really could not discuss it with him. He may have thought that as an artist he was very “serious” and open, but his methods were actually pretty closed.

And like you, I think that work begets work - it creates a groove. Maintaining that groove as you age is the real challenge though….
E

Double J said...

Rubens was a statesman... that's a hell of a day job.... and I wish some artists were regarded in a similar manner today.

Still, history has a way of repeating itself... will it be in my lifetime?

Eva said...

Double J,
I like the idea of artist as statesman... and I think people who are not artists can still view them in that light. But perhaps artists these days are too busy politiking in other ways, within the art world...

Amy Smith Garofano said...

I know this is a little off-the-topic for this blog post, but I was wondering if any of you could generously advise me on the topic of commissions. Aside from the questions surrounding creative obligations and the patron's expectations, I was hoping for some guidance on financially arranging a commission. Any good books out there, or a magic formula I should use for figuring out what I should ask as a down payment? Or do I just take this person's verbal commitment to pay, make the work, and trust they'll pay at the end? I'm looking at a pretty big time commitment to a proposed commission...

I've never really been close up to someone making a career of art so I'm a little naive. Anything helps, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy

I think commissions are really tricky, but some artists do nothing but that. Perhaps it depends on how predictable your work will be. People want to know what they are getting. If you have a lot of examples of past work and the collector knows pretty much what they are getting - like a portrait, for example (although even portraits can be damn touchy...), then yes, I think you should ask for a down payment, which is not refundable if they decide to not get it.

This is a pretty big piece, right? What would you do with it if they decide to not get it?

The only time I was commissioned by a private collector, they didn't want it. It was "too red." So they bought a work they had initially seen and liked, which is probably what they should have done to begin with ... but I think they liked the idea of having something made special for them. Anyway, I did not keep that painting either....heck, I can't even recall what happened to it...

Eva

Amy Smith Garofano said...

Excellent. Thanks, Eva!

I wasn't sure if I could ask for money down, but after your advise I did and he easily agreed. He's buying a completed piece that he likes from me (8'x2') and asking me to do 4 or 5 more "like it" for an installation. So he has a pretty good idea of what he's getting and it makes sense that he would pay for half of each piece up front and then the second half when each one is finished.

Now I just need to figure out how to continue the idea that I started with that original piece and develop it in these new pieces, without letting things get stale!

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