There are days when I go to the studio at 11 am, and I leave at 7 pm, and there is nothing but an empty coffee pot to even prove that I was there at all. I can paint all day long and twist my self into an angry little wad of person and swear out loud because I feel so betrayed by you. I can blame the weather. I can throw an old yogurt container full of some toxic sludge I mixed up out of of Galkyd and paint at what I like to think of as your head, but is in fact is a canvas hanging on the wall. I can blow through $500 worth of paint this week ( a mix of Gamblin and Williamsburg, they should sponsor me) and scrape out every single mark I made and then rip the canvas from the stretchers and throw the whole wretched mess on the floor and jump up and down on it bang my head against on the wall and then storm out. I can, I have, and I will again. Hopefully not tomorrow though.
The thing is, I can go back tomorrow and maybe the sun is out, or I didn’t dream of endlessly biding things up in string, and I might calmly find something good and worthwhile. Maybe I will make something I like.
The blue painting that I used as the cover of last week’s post ended up on the floor, a disaster, inadequate and disappointing, but I did finish a couple of other paintings. I was happy with this pink painting above and I posted it to Facebook. An old friend and former gallery owner in Toronto bought it a couple of hours later.
To quote my Dad, we are always moving “two steps forward, one step back.”. Each painting is not better than the last. Some paintings are better, some are worse. The better I get at painting, the higher my standards for myself are. The higher my standards for myself are, the more ruthless I am when it comes to my destroying my work that I don’t like. Some days I don’t care at all about this- I am detached as I detach the canvas from the bars. Other days I am much more disappointed in myself. I fail.
In December I went to see the Matisse show at MOMA. It showed photographs of all of the stages of his work- the way he painted and scraped away at one painting for weeks some times. I’m not that good. I think my paintings grow lifeless and overworked quickly, so I don’t have as many chances as Matisse to get it right. All I can do is cut my losses and try again tomorrow. I remind myself that this is what I want: the opportunity to grow and go deep, no matter how messy it gets.