Wednesday, August 10, 2011

fear and ease

Painting, or any thing else for that matter, is not always easy. In fact, the thing that we love and are ultimately committed to doing is ofttimes the thing that fills us with fear. I realized during a conversation with a long-time friend last week, that every time I start to paint I have to push past fear. Fear of the ugly line. Fear of failure. Fear of so many more things. I was reading through Art in America this evening and I came across and article about Rirkrit Tiravanija. Featured in this article was an "original" tear out of his art created expressly for the issue. It prompted  my post.

The art was text.

I believe that. Fear does eat the soul and I have experienced a little soul eating in my time.

Lately the fear has been about content, and context. I read not too long ago something that sculptor Horatio Dowbley said, "Art is language, and in language, a person says things." That haunts me a little. I understood my work better after having read his remark. I understood that for the most part it says nothing.They are mere studies in disguise, something pretty to hang above the couch...end table...chair...

Now, there is the fear of what to say. (And the fear of painting mere decorative art- but that is a discussion for another time.)  I am not alone. We have all been there, maybe not in the context of creating art, but the fear of "saying things" I think is universal:
Picture the social situation where you are invited but not known. You are welcomed but not sure. Where and when do you feel at liberty to be yourself? Do you safely stick to small talk? Do you drink the pretty drinks and be seen and not heard, to leave feeling lonely? Or do you jump in and spill the beans on your latest guffaw? Do you open your mouth and risk sideways glances and the mingly groups parting like the red sea?

While I do not believe I will ever naturally be able to rid myself of fear, I choose to acknowledge it and respectfully not feed it. The thing to do then, I suppose, is to keep painting what I love. While I want dearly for my work to say more than, "I look good in your foyer, don't I?", I cannot ever let the language be that of didacticism or blatancy. If I love what I am doing and I forge ahead, sans fear, it will have to say something, and what it says may end up surprising me.


  1. That's a bold post, vunerable. I can assure you that your art communicates on a deeper level. Art history teaches us that humanity has always had a desire to re-create their surroundings. Our desire to create comes from being image bearers of the creator. While you may not have a deep hidden message in your work, your work itself speaks to the existence of an ultimate artist. In that unique way your work pours forth great knowledge.

  2. Anonymous, thank you so very much for YOUR words of wisdom.

  3. What a thought-provoking post... I appreciate it. Also, I wanted to mention that I am always impressed with your other artistic talent that I often see - your photography. You are just awesome, my dear :-)

  4. I enjoyed reading this post. All we can do is paint what we love and hopefully something meaningful and visible comes out of that.


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