Thursday, January 26, 2012

writer's block

it's raining grey and nasty in indiana and i haven't made anything in 6 weeks.  not a mug, not a painting, not a print, not anything.  i re-worked my county fair installation, but mostly that was just re-hashing ideas and re-configuring layout (not that that is easy or mindless).  and this is where i am at.  nothing on tap, nothing in mind, just nothing.  but then i believe that is how creativity works.  it ebbs and flows like the sea.  it breathes in and it breathes out.

i imagine that the majority of people do not understand this phenomenon.  most 'artists' even probably do not understand this.  we go to grad school in search of our voice, but end up getting caught up in creating an identifiable form, technique or idea.  then we spend the rest of our careers working within those fenced in borders we've put around ourselves, producing work that will support our lifestyles.  this is what the world expects from us: to be producers of art, like we are some machine that shits out beauty.  or at least buyable, recognizable, and finished relics of thought.

this is not art.  art exists in a realm of experimentation, everything else is production.  for example: my pottery is quite unique, and it took me several years of practice and trial and error to develop a form, image, technique that works.  that sells.  that is accessible to its audience.  but in making and re-making and re-making, the art becomes lost in production.  to crank out mug after mug or print after print, or anything in quantity simply takes the thought out of making.  it becomes mindless repetition, no different than pushing a button on a factory line (the only difference is that i own my factory).

so i haven't made anything in 6 weeks.  my stock is dropping at my co-op gallery, and my shelves are beginning to look a bit sad.  but i believe this down-time is an important part of creating.  closing oneself off from spewing forth 'art' and stepping back and breathing in for a bit.  observing, and struggling with vague ideas and images that must be worked into something meaningful.  the point for me is to avoid the one-dimensionality of artists who discover a marketable niche in their work.  of course, i want to be able to support myself with my art, and that typically means selling things the public already knows you make.  but for me that is secondary to thinking about new ideas and ways of affecting an audience.

most people refer to this as writer's block.  and the thing about writer's block is that you are not creating nothing.  you are making all kinds of things.  you are rarely, however, finishing anything.  you put down something vague in hopes of working out a complete idea, but it just doesn't happen.  my sketchbook is filled with scribbles and sketches, but they simply have no meaning at the moment.

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