I’m in Love Again!
Do you know that Bjork song? The one about falling in love. Where it’s all so quiet and then it all goes nuts? And she keeps falling in and out of love … quiet, then loud, then quiet, then loud …
That’s how making art feels to me.
I get lost sometimes and fall out of love with the whole thing. I question myself. I compare myself to other people and they all seem more capable and creative than me. And then I either stop creating, or I carry on but my work starts to become derivative. I try to emulate the work I like and it falls flat and all the fun goes out of it. So I wind up just watching Netflix and eating popcorn and getting depressed, because I’m always depressed when I’m not creating.
And then, if you’re lucky, something happens and the spark comes back and it’s just like that song … “you ring the bell – bing bong – you shout and you yell …” .
This time a few things colluded to help light my creative fire again. My work was rejected for an exhibition, which devastated me at first but then made me rethink things. I met some well-known artists whose self-absorption and misguided belief in their own importance reminded me why I hate the art world. And I started watching previous series of “Landscape Artist of the Year” on Sky Arts … it’s not the best show in the world, but it does give you a rare opportunity to watch artists work. Each person is so different and it’s fascinating to watch their techniques.
Anyway, one man was using a technique that gave me an idea. I had been thinking about abandoning watercolour and ink in favour of acrylics. But I started wondering if there weren’t ways to stick with watercolour but push it in new directions. Maybe I could add textures to watercolour? Maybe I could get interesting effects?
This man on the show was using some kind of grid stencil that created a neat effect with oils, so I borrowed some plasterer’s scrim from a friend and tried that. It created a really cool effect. I tried it on a failed landscape. The effects were wrong in some places, but really exciting in others. So then I tried crinkling up some cling film and letting the paint dry in the creases. Again, good in some places and not so great in others.
But the experiments lit that fuse again and reminded me of the core truth: I lose my way when I try to make art that I think will sell or gain approval or get into exhibitions. But when I make art just for the fun of it, when I do things just to see what happens, when I completely forget about pleasing anyone but myself … then I am in hog heaven. Then I am reminded of just how lucky I am to have something that makes me this happy, no matter what else is happening in my life.
All I need now is more time!