Tuesday, March 10, 2015

This Song is Sung for Anyone That's Listening

I have been working in the same studio space for about a year and a half now.  I just verbally agreed to a new lease for 2015/2016.   The reason I bring this up, is that for years I claimed that if I had the time to dig in and actually develop my work I would be able to be so much more productive and more successful.  While it is difficult to see beyond the immediate time period, either into the future or into the past, I think this still to be true.  

My May show at the Central Gallery draws near, and as it grows closer, I am left with this amazing thought that while usually my focus is narrowing within two months of a big show, my focus this time seems to be broadening.  My work seems far more free than it has in the past.  I don't feel like the result needs to be the greatest thing in the world.  It is unlikely that it will be.  It will be the best thing that I can complete within these next two months, but there is no guarantee that it will be work that will gain me any recognition, be meaningful to any audience, or for that matter even be remembered in a months time.

While in studio today I was listening to Uncle Tupelo.  As Life Worth Livin' was playing, I began to think about my audience.  Essentially it doesn't matter to me if people see my work, though in the past I have claimed that I strive to make work that makes people happy, but with my recent work, and especially with the work for this show, I realize that it is no longer about that for me anymore.  They lyrics to Life Worth Livin' cut sharp.  

This song is sung for anyone that's listening
This song is for the broken-spirited man
This song is for anyone left standing
After the strain of a slow, sad end

The work has always been for anyone who is listening, anyone who wants to see it, feels moved by it in some way.  It doesn't do these things for everyone.  For the longest time, I felt like it should, like if I was successful, suddenly everyone would understand my work.  Everyone would like my work.  I would become an international art star over night.  I would change people's lives for the better and the world would be a better place.  I am thirty four now.  I do not live in this land of make believe, but much like Cezanne who was super critical of his own work and himself, I still maintain this feeling that there is something in it which is vital to the art world, or at least vital to me and a number of people who do genuinely enjoy what I make.  

I began to think about my work in these terms.

Question the process.  
Let the result stand as a record.  
Rethink the process.  

I've decided that the finished products that I create are not actually finished.  While there is perhaps an end goal, I am unaware of what it is.  I have a vision sometimes or sometimes a question or topic that I want to ponder for a while.  I make an initial statement and then the dialogue begins.  When the dialogue is through for the time being, I have a "finished piece."

Cezanne has been very important to me as of late.  His color palette was enough to make any painter drool, but I think that his career arc is one that provides me with inspiration.  He struggled for such a long time and had moments of complete brilliance while in solitude and peace in the country.  Despite any struggles which he may have suffered, he is considered one of the key figures in painting in the past century and a half.  He provides me with hope, but the hope isn't for some illusory sense of success but rather he provides me hope that I may find what I am looking for one of these days, or perhaps someone else will realize what I am looking for.

I started working on this piece after Cezanne yesterday.  I created my own still life of tangerines.  I am obsessed with tangerines.  They are by far one of my favorite things.  Oranges come in a close second.  When I think about these fruit I cannot but help of thinking of Cezannes still lifes of fruit.  While he did not use a lot of oranges in his work, he did use peaches quite a bit which fit, color wise, with what I've been working on.  I began my piece by drawing the tangerines in my normal ink style, but as I've been choosing the color and layout for my color grids in the background I am selecting colors that are used primarily in each section of a Cezanne still life.

The process is allowing me more time to think about the color choices that I am making.  How do they fit into the structure of the piece?  This way they become less random and more about empirical shapes within the work.  

Yesterday I also finished one of my bigger mechanical pieces for the show in Bangor.  I was very pleased with the way the color interacted with the drawing in this piece.  I think it one of the more successful pieces of this nature that I have created thus far.

I feel like I am in a good spot with my work and with my progress on this show.  Hopefully the progress continues and I install something I can really feel proud of.  In the long run I really just want the work to reach a point where I know that I've learned something, presented the best thing that I am currently capable of and, most importantly, that there is still obvious room for growth.


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