*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Artists, because of the demands of their personality, their sense of personal mission, and their need to create or perform, are driven people. Mixed with the love of work can be a terrible pressure to work. For many artists, and especially for the most productive ones, the line between love and obsession and between love and compulsion blurs or disappears entirely. Are such artists free or are they slaves to their work?
In The Artist and Society the psychiatrist Lawrence Hatterer said of such an artist:
His most recognizable trait is his recurring daily preoccupation with translating artistic activity into accomplishment. The consuming intensity of this artistic pursuit brooks no interference or obstacles. His absorption with the creative act is such that he experiences continually what the average artist feels only infrequently when he reaches unusual levels of creative energy with accompanying output. He appears to be incapable of willful nonproductivity.
This is Picasso working for 72 hours straight. This is van Gogh turning out 200 finished paintings during his 444 days in Arles. The artist who is “incapable of willful nonproductivity” is a workaholic for whom little in life, apart from his artistic productivity and accomplishment, may have any meaning.
Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts: Practical Guidance and Inspiration for Creative and Performing Artists
Comments are welcome!
A: I wouldn’t say “decide” is the right word because creating a painting is not strictly the result of conscious decisions. I think of my reference photograph, my preliminary sketch, and the actual folk art objects I depict as starting points. Over the months that it takes to make a pastel painting, the resulting interpretive development pushes the painting far beyond this source material. When all goes well, the original material disappears and characters that belong to the painting and nowhere else emerge.
It is a mysterious process that I am still struggling to understand. This is the best way I can describe what it feels like from the inside, as the maker.
Comments are welcome!