Last night over dinner, I was trying to explain to The Amazing Husbandini how I was feeling in the area of art creation. I thought that I might repeat my explanation here, but I'm not sure how successful I'll be; I can't seem to speak coherently without excessive hand gesturing, and that doesn't translate well into a blog post.
In the 10-ish years I was a cubicle troll for various companies, I had gradually lost most of my interest in painting. When I did paint, while there was some enjoyment to be had, there was also and underlying feeling of desperation - that creativity needed to provide an escape, or else it really wasn't worth spending the time on. And not only did that escape have to be emotional, but it needed to be financial as well. If I couldn't sell some of my artwork - make that time pay for itself - there was a part of me that felt like it was all a waste. Granted, there were some self-esteem/recognition issues tied up in that as well, but having a dozen people tell me they loved something I painted was nowhere near the same as holding a big, fat check in my hand. I was trying to use the artwork as an escape route from my 8-to-5 life, and in the end, all I managed to do was turn it into a commodity.
I was cleaning off a table in the studio the other day and ran across a collection of photocopies of checks that I had saved from various art sales I'd made. While I will keep the one I received from Tadashi Hayakawa (having a well-known, respected artist shell out for one of my paintings was a thrill, regardless of any of the rest of this) the rest of them are going in the shredder. Some of the pieces I've sold - including "Sunbeam Cat", the watercolor that Mr. Hayakawa bought - are long gone - getting them ready to show and/or sell was more important than bothering to scan and save them so that I would have a record of what I had done. The level of desperation and screwed-up-ness that represents is something that I'm just now recognizing.
Not that I got into all of that part of it over nachos and iced tea last night - that's just a little background for you.
What I was trying to gesticulate to TAH last night was that now, after five months of unemployment (wow, already?), I feel like I want to paint again. I feel like I'm standing right on the edge of jumping into a huge burst of creative something - and I feel happy and interested in the whole process. Not excited, exactly, though that is a part of it. Excited was always a part of it before - any time there was a new idea or technique or what have you that felt like it was another part of that paint-myself-to-a-better-place puzzle, I was excited. Excited wasn't the problem. Happy was what was missing, unless there was money involved. The other sign for me now is the amount of information that I'm trying to take in to help me improve what I'm doing. As my mother could tell you, I have always had a short temper when it came to my artistic shortcomings. And it's a flaw of mine that I always want to get artwork perfect the first time. Spending time practicing and experimenting with better ways to do something hasn't traditionally been one of my best things. But I've been looking at some of the photos we brought back from vacation, and some of the sketches and ideas I've been holding onto, and I don't feel the rush to churn something out and get it right up on Etsy. I've been looking at them as artistic challenges that need to be considered and worked on bit by bit.
I still have my Etsy shop. I'm not rejecting the idea of exchanging some of my artwork for cash. Kibble still costs money and I'm still unemployed, after all. I've tried talking the cats into getting jobs, but they keep declining. But I'd much rather take my time and fill it with pieces I'm really proud of and that I enjoy than with stuff I'm just spitting out in an attempt to keep myself on the map.
So there it is, friends and neighbors. It's a better story when told with hand gestures, but this gets the gist of it across.
Next post: Cat Photos!