Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don't Look Back

"Hers is the most revealing behind and in front of the scene look you will ever get at the struggles of making it as an artist. This is not made for television, it is real. Unless you cannot resist the guilty pleasure, there is no need to tune into to the reality TV show, Work Of Art..."
I felt guilty when I read
Barney Davey's effusive praise for this blog in his widely read and instructive Art Print Issues. It has been nearly a week since I last posted an entry here and I have been averaging no more than one or two a week for the past month. It's not for lack of things to write about: I spent the first three months of 2010 in a psychiatric clinic and the next three trying to put my life back together with what little was left after my illness forced me into bankruptcy. Rather, I've needed time alone to think – think and not have to share – and through diet and rigorous exercise, try to dissipate the fog of psychotropic medications that had suppressed my imagination for too long.
I also needed to practice my painting skills. They were rustier than I'd expected after months of disuse. Simple brush-work, especially with enamel paints, demanded more control and mental focus than I could muster, at least for the first few weeks, so I resorted to repainting several studies of recent enamel paintings in more forgiving acrylic in order to resuscitate some stored muscle-memory. And if my mind and body were shakey, my confidence was in a worse state. I felt like a fake: unable to complete new work – commissions had accumulated like past due accounts prior to my breakdown – I questioned my competence even to replicate old work. Reams of defaced attempts littered the floor of my studio.
At the end of last year, I burned a pile of my paintings in a frenzied, psychotic impulse to free myself from my past. I've wondered more than once, these past several weeks, whether or not it might actually have been a singular epsiode of clarity, of sanity.
I have no doubt that I am an artist. In many ways, I am no choice about it. However, I do have increasing doubts about the art I'm making and why. It is, in some ways (not all), at odds with what preoccupies me these days. Which is not to say I don't believe in my current work. It's just that, right now, it obstructs my path, in ways emotional, psychological and physical, to what I want – no, what I am compelled – to explore next.
So I'm ridding myself of distracting remnants of old ideas. I'm selling all my studies, drawings and photographs – at prices far below those charged in the secondary market – in order to fund the completion of my last two series of 'old' enamel works, the
Dangerous Career Babes and Big Pin-Ups (Miss July is pictured here) before the year's end. After they're done, I won't accept any more commissions. I long to be free of obligation – and, for that matter, others' expectations – so that I can begin to refine, then serve, the stew of new ideas already simmering in my head.
If ever there was an opportunity for smart collectors to acquire one of my works at an affordable price, this period of radical transition would be it.

6 comments:

Cagney Studio 8 said...

You are such an inspiration to me. Your journey, your honesty and your boldness all inspire me. Thank you for sharing and letting someone across the world connect, relate and admire.
- Cagney King
www.cagneyking.com

Fondle My Art said...

I have recently started reading your blog. You should not feel guilty about the praise you have received for it. It is a raw and honest sharing of your struggles. I have suggested your blog to a good friend of mine and she enjoys it as much as I do. It matters not if you write once a month or week or day. It is what you say when you write.

"I long to be free of obligation – and, for that matter, others' expectations – so that I can begin to refine, then serve, the stew of new ideas already simmering in my head." I wish you much luck in this. It is a sentiment that we all have at times. Now, in your time...you must know how much support you have worldwide.

Where can I look at work you have available to purchase??

Karen Martin Sampson said...

Yours is the first blog I read in my list when I see you have posted - do not be concerned about how often that is! Your honesty is refreshing and wonderful. I am an old woman artist compared to you - I wish I had had some of your gumption and determination at your age - well, I WAS determined to follow my calling even though it meant a lifetime of poverty level living - but artists often know how to live well without much money and that has been true of me and mine - but I had no business sense or training at all and am frantically trying to make up for lost time. Follow your heart, Hazel - don't fall back into that place where you found yourself last year...you have so much to offer!

artistlauralynch said...

hazel, reading your last entry was insightful and as honest and straightforward as your words are you have indeed found yourself in a quandary ... but at the same time you created an effective ad to sell your work at a reduced price! bravo! ... and i hope you get some bites! you are at a crossroads as an artist with the direction and form your work will take... and it's a good thing... go with it and trust your instincts... peace out! laura.

Kate said...

Commissions - irk, irk, irk, that word is, in my opinion, one of the most stifling, stressful and burdensome words in the lives of "some" artists. For what it's worth, I'm pleased to hear you've stopped that for now (or ever).
Kate

Barney Davey said...

Dear Hazel,
The last thing I expected when writing about you was to engender a guilt reaction from you. However, in reading your remarks it became obvious why that would happen. That is, despite the mountain of difficulties you've faced, each one of which would be reason enough for many artists to give up on painting, or blogging or both, you bravely have continued to push forward. It is typical of you to question your past path without regard to the successes that came from them, and to challenge yourself to move forward as you retool your skills.

The bottom line is if you never painted another image, or wrote another word, you already have made more contributions to helping other artists, and collectors too, grasp in cold light the difficulties every visual artist encounters in pursuing a viable career. That your life and career are highlighted with extremes beyond what most of us in comfy surroundings can imagine is borne out in your imagery, which is at once simply elegant and highly intellectually provocative.

That you are ridding yourself of distracting remnants of old ideas is the stuff of great artistic endeavor and a hallmark for many of the most cherished artists. That you are willing to share those remnants at below market proves you are more interested in moving on with your life and your work than you are preoccupied with the financial minutiae that entangles most of the rest of us. Anyone interested in your career would be foolish not to pick up something from your most generous offer to once again share part of your life and work.