Friday, January 3, 2014

Making: A Lifelong Conversation with Oneself

I realized recently that making art is like having a lifelong conversation with yourself. There is a private place inside that is always thinking, looking at the world, and personalizing it. I invite others in sometimes, to react and talk things through. My husband is one person I trust with these thoughts and ideas, my oldest daughter as well. Both have artistic sensibilities and will be kind and gentle with my ideas. I don't invite just anyone into the conversation. It has to be someone I trust, because before an idea or piece is fully formed, it is fragile. Criticism at this time would be fatal.

There are times, when I am busy, that I do not have time to actually make art. But that doesn't mean that the conversation is silent. My mind is always gathering information, images, and ideas. I will see something I find interesting and invite it in. For instance, I was at the Metropolitan Museum last week and saw the contemporary ink drawings from Asia. I was intrigued by the way that some of the pieces used ink and by some of the other formats and materials. These artists and pieces entered into my monologue. I found myself excited to get home and play with some of the ideas. I turned over different possibilities in my mind of ways to include these materials and methods in my current way of working.

And yesterday, when I finally got there, I allowed myself to play. If I had gone into my studio with a concrete plan, it would have reacted like concrete: immovable. I had some ideas of things I wanted to try and materials I wanted to play with, but nothing definite. That is so important to creative thinking: the ability to remain fluid in your thoughts and actions; to act and then react. It is good to have something to push against and for this you have to make something through action-by using materials in some way. If your thoughts become solidified, then it's difficult to react. You become judgmental, which is the death of creativity.

I realize that this seems very self absorbed: the idea of having a life-long conversation between oneself and materials. And perhaps it is. But I can't imagine my life without it. I don't think my artwork will be seen by a lot of people or that it will ever make me famous. That's not the point. I think the conversation is the point: this enduring and personal cognizance of life. Man has been involved with making and art making since the beginning of time. That has to signify its importance.