7 day challenge, day 1

About a year ago I decided to write a blog every two weeks about my process, as an artist. Since then not one blog post got written because I thought it had to be meaningful in some way, and I had to stand behind what I write. I now realise, that is not going to work for me. I will write freely, do not believe me or pin me down on anything I say. I will contradict myself and generally be ill-mannered. If that is the only way I can share about my process, then so be it. Something has to be put out here. View it as letters to an intimate friend, and it will not have to be logical or make any sense. I do hereby challenge myself to write one page for 7 days and put it online. I will do a spelling check, but no excessive grammar check, I don´t feel like it.

12-12-2017

A wintery morning in December, at 6 am, I can´t manage to sleep anymore. This situation is out of the ordinary in extremes. It´s never so snowy in December in the Netherlands. It reminds me of my childhood in Sweden, when this was normal. However, here it´s one of those occasions when trains don´t drive and cars get stuck. I don´t drive a meter with our little yellow car with summer-tires, it will end up in a ditch before I know it. So, I´m at home in a white world and I can´t sleep, even though normally I sleep until a lazy 10 or 11 am. My artist’s life is bothering me. I´m trying to understand what I´m doing, what I want, and failing. I had a dream tonight about an art teacher, telling me that my work was accepted for something, not for the quality of it but the spirit behind it, in it, or something of the sort. The work that saved my skin was a drawing of an old man.

I invited the mystery back in my life last week-end. Don´t ask me what that means, please. I just invited it back in, in the hope of a shift in some way.

So, what vexes me? I think I ended up in a stupid situation, where my so called `black hole´ is catching up with me, about 4 years after graduation from art-school, rather than the year directly after. I´ve had too much success to figure out what I´ll fight for. Too much success, to feel the desperation when I don´t create a certain thing, and now I´m lost.

I don´t understand if I am a painter, if I want to be one. I have difficulties with going to my studio and do the work, already since a long time. Right now it hurts financially, quite badly, as my studio is expensive and I don´t use it enough. My attempts to force myself to go there and work are effective for a few days, weeks, and then I lose all enthusiasm. Once again. The trouble here is not that I am extraordinarily lazy. I do other things. I started pottery in March and really got hooked up. Probably for a couple of reasons: it´s not considered as fine art so I can make what I want without this doom of ART on my head, it can be functional, which is a relief, and I got involved in lessons, a group of enthusiastic potters, my lover joined in the fun and now makes his own pots. It became something social to work with clay and tackle technical problems with kiln firings and glaze fails. The outcome did become less important than the process. In fact, this is why a creative job is fun, or should be. My painting process is and has always been something rather solitary. It doesn´t matter how much I gather with other artists to discuss my work, exhibitions and so on, when I make the stuff I am alone. I use ready paints so there are no strange paint failures where everything melts down, breaks or explodes. I suppose it´s rather dull, in fact. What entices me in painting is the colourful world I can create, the surfaces and depths, light, dark, structure. My trouble is that I have too many ideas about “good” and “bad” paintings. It would be such a relief to use the device: it looks good so it is good. That´s what I do with my pots right now, and it´s fun. Of course, also there it´s a completely random criterion because everyone loves something else. I start to believe people’s eyes actually see something different. My lovers’ pots, for example, already sell quite well. It´s rather frustrating to set up an online store and not sell any of my own pots. But, well… I might as well use the challenge, to see where my energy goes, as they say, maybe I´m missing something here. And no, I do not believe my pots are ugly just because they don´t sell.

So why all this success with painting? And why can´t I be smart and put all my cards on that venture? I really haven´t a clue. I have some kind of aversion against building an image, a career, as a successful artist. It all feels fake. At the same time that is exactly what I am doing, especially with social media being so important. Being a nobody becomes more and more difficult. I dream of having a small (family) business, modest but enough to make a living, and just to make things. To let the mystery of simple things be, without over-pricing them because that´s how it´s done in the art market. And without under-pricing the things too (for their handmade value is there), only because they can be made in a factory as well. It´s a tricky time, I find.

I think it will take me some blog posts to figure things out. Let´s use it as a diary, and use the same tricky internet to put it out there.

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