Sunday, April 05, 2009

Deep Thoughts

On Friday, when I cleaned up my brushes and stood back from my easel, I like what I painted, but I had this sensation that it was just "fluff."
It was a museum scene and I like it, and its well painted, but I began to have doubts that it was "art." Doubts perhaps that I am not "pushing" myself.
Those doubts rather increased through the afternoon and I think some of that had to do with the fact that I spent a couple of hours with my husband at the neurologist again. His troubles seem to be increasing and there are doubts now about the toxin diagnosis. Things certainly get put into perspective fast when your loved ones are ill or unhappy. He is in for more tests early next week.

So I think I began to feel like my painting was a nice outlet, and healthy for my mental state, but is it all so important? NOW... before I start sounding like I'm having a big pity party let me go on to say that I've been reading this nice little book simply called The Impressionists (Art in Detail, by Diana Newall) and I began to reflect on the work the impressionists did. Most notably they documented scenes of ordinary life and people. They were perhaps groundbreaking at the time, but they were not trying to set the world on fire. They simply wanted to paint what they knew, what they experienced and understood first-hand.

And that made me feel so much better. I, too, like to paint what is familiar to me. And the reasons are that it is comforting. I paint the places I like to be, the things I like to experience and share. So in times of worry and doubt, I love nothing more than to sit in a quiet corner of a coffee shop, or browse for a good book, or to get together with friends for a nice dinner - to be part of the world, to be "out there." But then to work at home alone in my studio and recreate those moments of relaxation and togetherness is a gift. And its that which makes me want to paint these common scenes, and that which I hope carries forward to those who buy my work and want to look at it everyday in their homes. There is comfort in the familiar.


LSaeta said...

Wow. You are going through a lot right now and the most important thing is for you to let your art provide you comfort. Painting what is familiar to you is absolutely what you should be doing right now. I don't think "pushing yourself" is necessary as you will have all the time in the world to do that later. You have such an amazing gift so enjoy it, let it be easy for a while, so you can spend time with your family and deal with all of your emotions. God bless you and your family.

Terry Rafferty said...

Robin - My thoughts are with you and your husband in this difficult and scary time. I hope you will soon have a diagnosis, and a positive treatment plan.

As for your thoughts about painting: the best thing I can say is that you aren't alone! Every artist I know has times of feeling their work is meaningless, doesn't measure up, etc.
On Friday I was given an award for one of my pieces; on Saturday I went to a friend's art opening and felt my work was just plain boring compared to her very exciting, avant garde installation. What can you do? :-)
I think we all just need to take each day and each painting as they come, and take joy and satisfaction in the process. If you haven't already, you might read Art & Fear by David Bales & Ted Orland - they write about their own experiences in making art. A short, fun and very observant book for artists.
Take care of yourself and your husband - hopefully you will have good news to post soon.


Lorrie Drennan said...

Hi Robin,

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

You are right about the real world sometimes knocking a knot on your head and reminding you of what is really important. I don't think there is a valid artist among us that has not worried about the "relevance" of their work.

But think of it this way...ALL of us cannot ALWAYS paint something edgy and new and avant garde. How exhausting would that be?? Not only for the artist, but for the viewer as well.

I think the greatest gift, or talent, an artist can have is the ability to take an everyday scene and not only find, but recreate for others, the beauty in it.

I was the featured artist at a wine festival this past weekend and the comments and attitude from other people, not only about my work, but about my "job" as an artist in general, reminded me of just how special we artists really are.

Not everyone can paint, obviously, but I was reminded that not everyone "sees" like we do either. We are like the Mapquest service for a whole other world that people would miss out on if not for our vision.

Follow advice that I try to give myself all the time...RELAX, enjoy producing your work and it will show, and make an honest effort to improve when you get a chance. That's all you can do.

Good luck. We will be thinking about you.

Robin Cheers said...

Thank you all for your support and the brilliant reminders!
Lorrie, your comments are GOLD! We should print that last sentence and post it in our studios.

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