Friday, April 08, 2005

paint under your nails

The reality of the New York exhibition happening is finally taking hold of me. It's only one painting in a large group show, but it does mean something, especially since this is the first time I'm showing there. There's a point when the prep work for an exhibition can take a lot out of you. Once that's over, you can relax a little and take in what's going on. Then, it's on to the next thing and the cycle begins anew. My friend, Vince and me delivered our work to the gallery last Friday and this was one of the topics we talked about. As an artist, you get wrapped up in making the work, then you have to deal with the business side of things along with the usual purchasing of materials, stretching canvas, etc... and you can forget to enjoy the moment of recognition you may get.

By the time an opening reception comes around, it's over within a couple of hours and after that, you're thinking about what you're going to do next. There's always that next body of work waiting, the next grant application to write, that information packet to get in the maill or making sure your gallery is getting that stuff out, etc... Receptions are always anti-climatic. By the time I've completed a body of work and it's up and out of the studio, I've already moved on to the next project. Sometimes, this happens *before* I've completed a current series paintings or whatever. I do what I need to do in order to make sure the work is up to my standards, but, a lot of times, I'm already planning my next move. Sometimes, I'll take a break after a period of working on a certain amount of work, but it's not that often. At least not at this point in my life. I think the longest I went without doing much art was after I graduated from college. It took me two years to filter through the things I learned in school. Even then, it took a while before I felt really confident about what I was doing, but I kept at it, regardless of how little I produced or how much it sucked.

I have a better sense of myself as a painter these days, but the struggle and challenge is always there. Each painting has it's own solutions and it can take a lot of hard work to get to those solutions. It's not always a teeth-grinding experience. I've had times when a painting came together in a couple of hours and I was happy with it. There have been others whose resolution took months. That unpredictability is something that keeps painting interesting for me. That, and the challenges of solving practical issues related to form, color, and line; looking at an area of red and wondering if the painting is better off with the orange just under it and so on.