Friday, March 7, 2014

Making It Look Effortless

A strange thought occurred to me today. I again have Numbers up on the easel and try as I might this work has really been a struggle. There was a figure that was there that has now been struck out and magically everything works now. For some reason that figure just didn't play well with the others.  She worked great in the drawing that the painting is based on, but when it came to the actual canvas - she didn't work. Why I kept her in changed this and that followed with painting her over and over again. I have no idea. I stubbornly, doubled down without a single thought of striking her out. This is an aspect of my studio life that I haven't written about much and this morning I found myself asking "why?".

I don't think artists share the "struggle" part of making art. I'm asked all the time how long a painting or drawing takes at opening. I mean when you see the finished works the viewer doesn't intrinsically see the struggle that went into creating the piece and the artist doesn't typically confess the fact the piece was hard to do, except to maybe artist friends. Yet, in real life it's a bit like the tortured composer puppet on Sesame Street in the studio at times. There are the times when I throw my brushes into the water and hop on my bicycle to go get some coffee. Only to come back an hour later and see something I'd been missing for the last week and or several months.

Now, it's ingrained in me to not to share this, because instructors in my college days told us that it was bad form to let people know that you really had to work at it to get it right. It opens the door for the viewer to find fault with the piece. You want them to think that it just flowed from your hand and think your a genius. I didn't question it at the time, but I should have.

What strikes me now, is this. It's a bit of a disservice to the "work" part of an artwork. I mean I remember instructors also saying that "art was 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration", so why do artists only own up to the 10% part? 

I remember seeing a documentary that showed U2 in the studio recording "The Unforgettable Fire" album. They left in the arguing and the toil in the recording studio when they were recording "In the Name of Love". Brian Eno was interviewed and was really worried that the band would over work the song since they'd been working on it in the studio 24/7 for almost three weeks. He recalled that the last time they had done so with a song while recording the "War" album that they ended up just scrapping it and moving on to the other songs. It was really eye opening for me when I was in High School when I saw that. At the time I thought that "art" just magically happened and what was wrong with me, because I was always fighting to get things right. The funny thing is that every time I hear "In the Name of Love" I appreciate it more, because I know what when into recording it. I know that the transitions were difficult to weave together and hearing it in an earlier state has made me appreciate the craftsmanship within the final product just that much more.