Saturday, January 1, 2011
2002-2010- swimming upstream
I'm not one of those artists that does self portraits. I am self indulgent enough as it is and I rarely use visual art as a medium for personal introspection. When I paint its more about themes, theories and ideas about the forces of nature that I feel personally connected to. Some truth that seems hidden and getting it to reveal itself . This new years I guess I inadvertently revealed a truth about myself while painting and in essence accidentally created a self portrait.
Early in the year I had experimented on a painting that was a bit more figurative than I tend to do. More specifically; while painting in my usual style I found the shapes and forms that I had smeared onto the plexiglass seemed to resemble a large catfish or coy. It was so clear that I decided to go with it and let it become that fish that it was revealing itself to be, but then midway through it, I wasn't sure that was such a good idea. I tried to change it, but couldn't undo what was done, so I frustratedly put it away and forgot about it. I came across it a few months ago and decided this time I'd give it another go. I tried once more to change it, but it was impossible to save the interesting elements about it if I didn't let it be a fish. I worried if it was hokey or lame, but wasn't willing to abandon it again, so I accepted that it was a fish and nothing could be done other then support it as the subject of this painting and create the best environment to surround the fish in.
It was in repeating the words of the title in my head- " It started to look like a fish, so I let it be a fish, but then I decided I didn't want it to be a fish so I tried to change it, but what could I do? It was already a fish". -that I realized: Hey I AM this fish!
The struggle with this painting and my resistance to let it be what it wanted to be could be likened to my parents seeing me grow up to become an artist. In the beginning they praised my artistic efforts, and got me all the great art supplies a kid could want. Art was the only thing I was really good at. I was an ok B- student with serious difficulty in math and not much good at sports. Somewhere along the line I think my future as an artist became a point of concern for my parents whom probably saw my dreams of being a huge success as an inevitable disappointment for us all. They attempted to change the fish as I did- to no avail. It was too late. The confidence I developed from their early praise was only emboldened by their lack of confidence now.
The only thing I was good at was being creative. If I were to give up then, I would have been miserable. So I refused their advice, b/c I felt like I was someone who wanted more and was willing to suffer to get it. I may not have realized it then but every decision I've made has led me towards me being here now, which is where I am happiest. Not all professional artists are famous. Why should they have to be? I eat well, I have a roof over my head, and I do sell paintings from time to time. So don't worry and be proud of yourselves- you raised a perfectly successful fish.