I am coming to the end of an enormous amount of art making. I have produced about 25 paintings in the last 5 months and soon they will all be picked up from my studio for a month long exhibition at Caldwell Snyder Gallery opening Thursday, June 5th.
For months I imagined how great it would feel to get to this point. I prayed that I would. I woke up in the middle of the night worrying that I would not. Now that I have, I see that this actual point in time is not particularly different from than any other point in the year. Yes it feels gratifying and I am happy that this body of work is finally complete. Knowing you have to accomplish a giant pile of anything is daunting and of course completion offers some relief. I certainly have learned a tremendous amount.
However, thinking there will ever be some final endpoint to your work is illusory. Like a mirage, the endpoint just moves further away as you get closer.
I think what I am saying is that you never really arrive. The next painting, the one just started, is always going to be the best. It usually is not, but somehow completing it moves you just a little bit closer to that eventuality.
Sometimes, in the middle of workshops, after a few days, once everyone knows each other and pretty much everyone is happily making their own work, I just acknowledge, try to remind people that this satisfying moment, this experience of happily making art with friends IS the endpoint. It is an enormous achievement to just be happily in the creative process humming away, feeling curious and excited about what you are doing.
That is the whole point. Picasso in all his fame and success probably did not feel much different than you or I when he was contentedly working in his studio. I love not buying into this idea that only after years and years of toiling, then and only then, will you start to feel happy and content in your Art.
Art making is not something you ever perfect. It is not supposed to get easier with time. It is supposed to be solid in its refusal to be gained. It can’t be perfected and if it ever becomes so then inevitably feelings of boredom will set in. First experienced by the artist and then, soon afterwards, the audience as well. Art making is a practice. It is begun and if continued can be tremendously transforming for the practitioner. Each artist’s practice gets to go through all the wonderful stages of maturation. The journey, the ride through this highly personal terrain with all its hopes and disappointments is what makes it all so worthwhile.
Thinking some point in the future will somehow be better than what is present is slightly flawed. You wouldn’t want to miss ANY of the stages that you get to experience as you and your work mature. It is a ride only you can experience and fortunately/unfortunately you get to do it only once. It is reassuring that the most compelling, fulfilling point so far in your art making is now.
Kind regards, Nicholas