Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 59
“The individual has always had to struggle
to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.
If you try it, you will be lonely often,
and sometimes frightened.
But no price is too high
to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Yes, I’ll admit it. I am a struggling artist.
I do not struggle with my art. But, perhaps I struggle because of it.
I struggle to gain attention for my art. I struggle to sell my art.
I once struggled to speak about my art. But, that is no longer true.
I am afraid sometimes. Is that a struggle of some sort?
I’m afraid that my work, or at least a piece here and there, will become what an old instructor once coined as furniture store art.
What is furniture store art? It is decoration.
An American watercolorist named Rex Brandt (1914-2000) wrote in his seminal instruction book, Watercolor Technique in 15 Lessons (1948 – Reinhold Publishing) that, painting is communication or decoration. Communication is concerned with ideas. Decoration embellishes a surface.
He went on, It’s purpose is to delight the eye, awaken the fancy, excite the imagination – but not to tell a story.
Dolf Reiser, in his 1972 (Studio Vista/ Van Nostrand Reinhold Company) book: Art and Science – Modes of Thinking/Visual Perceptions and Artistic Vision/Art Forms in Nature/Art and the Unconscious Mind, wrote that:
In art, human feelings and emotions are expressed in symbolic form – colors and shapes are used to communicate meanings which can be conveyed only with difficulty in normal language.
I am an abstractionist therefore I struggle. I struggle to be understood. I struggle to be accepted – that’s when I get into trouble.
I use the words of others wiser than I because they help form who I am. Becasue of this, I struggle to remain original.
Still, I follow the thoughts of my favorite art historian E. H. Gombrich who wrote in his classic text, The Story of Art, that:
…the Egyptians had largely drawn what they knew to exist, the Greeks what they saw; in the Middle Ages the artist also learned to express in his picture what he felt.
If I am a true practitioner of abstract art, then I paint all of the above based on what I know, what I see or have seen and what I have felt or feel and to that, I add how I think.
That, is the crux of my struggle: How I think. I’m as right brained as any other right brained individual, but…
It is because of this that I once struggled to survive. And now, I struggle to thrive.
The brain’s right hemisphere is supposed to make me nonlinear, intuitive, and holistic. It has also made me (or, am I wrong?) a bit OCD, ADD and who knows what else, with a tinge of some sort of dyslexia.
Dyslexia? I get confused about locations especially. I tend to see such a similarity in certain pairs of landscapes, buildings or people that I can’t differentiate between the two. Sometimes, in these circumstances, I have an overwhelming feeling of deja vu, which makes the task of differentiation even more difficult.
Hey look, we’re all screwed up to some point or another. I think being an artist just makes me more aware of my thought processes.
So it is then that I struggle.
I struggle to sell my work. I struggle to make a living directly from my art.
I struggle having to compromise constantly. There’s an old wine adages that says that the more the vine struggles, the better the wine.
I’m not whining – just saying. Einstein hits it on the head when he reminds me that, the daily struggle does not arise from a purpose or a program, but from an immediate need – cash and recognition NOW will give me the ability to continue to do this thing I’ve always thought I wanted to do all of my life.
Yet, the Buddha instructs me that life is struggle – stop craving and clinging and then I will be happy.Posted on: 17/06/2013, by : Ron Fortier