Friday fun: Over coffee this morning I read a poem by Ogden Nash and decided to play with it…
“Feelings are guides not gods.” – Dr. Bob Hoke
When I was in art school – and shortly after graduating – I tried wood sculpture, metal sculpture and pottery. I had a “story” of myself as a 3D sculptor. I soon noticed in each of those artistic disciplines that there were times where I was less than enthusiastic about my work. I didn’t “feel like working at it” and I was focusing on and treating this feeling of “I don’t wanna” as if it were a deity to be worshiped/obeyed/disobeyed. At the time I thought I had to “fix my attitude”, force myself to continue, and I struggled with it. I talked to Bob about this issue during one of our many lunches * and he said the quote mentioned above and told me something similar to the following story (which is excerpted from a book I’m now working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”):
So I examined my feelings (lived with the question a while) by keeping notes in my journal/sketchbook over the next month: I noticed that I loved to design the sculptures on paper and I loved the design process. I even loved the end result of the created sculpture, what I did not love was the process of creating the sculpture; the sawdust, splinters, sparks, the weight of the welding mask on my head and the fumes from pottery glazes and kilns/ovens. Those were the things I “didn’t wanna” deal with and would avoid by thinking of “other things to actually do” besides what needed to be done to finish the project. Turned out that my overall stick-to-it-and-persist attitude was just fine – all I needed to do was remove the media-elements that I so strongly disliked, that I had temporarily allowed to rule my desire to create. My feelings thus guided me to my present art media preference – cut paper collage. Which is not sculpture, nor the story of myself as a creator of really large 3D works, but turns out to “fit” the real me best. With my cut paper medium I still enjoy designing something in the dimensional sense: figuring out what physical piece connects to what, which layers over what. I love the end fine art product – for examples see www.sueclancy.com – and now I love the process of creating too because there are no splinters, sparks or fumes! The most I risk is a paper cut, or a glue-y mess – and all of those things I can live happily with!
*See also the result of these lunch-time meetings- the ebook: “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program – First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit
Here’s a page from Coffee Table Book by Sue Clancy
“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” – Dr. Bob Hoke
When I’m beginning a new piece of artwork I make thumbnail sketches, I write notes and doodles in my sketchbook, I make small studies, I make to-scale drawings, I draw, draw and re-draw before arriving at something that “works”. Then what “works” is redrawn and refined until it not only works but works well. (Then I dye handmade paper and pattern it … but never mind about that part just now.) When I start any effort the above quote by Dr. Bob Hoke serves me well. I do not have to make a perfect drawing right off the start. I don’t even have to have a perfect drawing by the end of the day’s work session. All I have to do is one line, one stroke, one effort at a time and trust myself that eventually I will have something that works well. And even if I don’t I will have made an honest effort. Ironically by being willing to do poorly, by focusing on my working process, I relax and thereby increase the likelihood that my project will progress pleasantly and ultimately become something my agents, galleries or clients will call a “success”. And my willingness to enthusiastically do poorly to the very best of my ability and have fun “just making a mess” has become my definition of “something worth doing”. And that, to me, is “success”.
The above quote by Dr. Bob Hoke is included in the ebook “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit – I’ve decided that in addition to my sketchbook pages (such as those from my Oregon Coast sketchbook) I’ll post bits from the “First Aid” ebook here on this blog – and I’ll also start posting pages from a new book effort I’m working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”.
And here is a photo of me working on a to-scale drawing….