Q: What about the importance of vision in your training in the Navy has helped you be able to see what you want to create in your art? (Question from “Arte Realizzata”)
A: I continue to reflect on what my experiences as a Naval officer contributed to my present career. Certainly, I learned attention to detail, time management, organization, and discipline, which have all served me well. I keep regular studio hours (currently 10:00 – 4:00 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) which I understand is rare among artists.
Prior to joining the Navy, I had financed my own flight training to become a commercial pilot and Boeing-727 Flight Engineer. However, my Naval career consisted entirely of monotonous paper-work jobs that were not the least bit intellectually challenging. Finding myself stuck in jobs that reflected neither my skills nor my interests, I made a major life change. When I left active duty at the Pentagon I resolved, “I have just resigned from the most boring job. I am going to do my best to never make BORING art!” Other than this, I an hard-pressed to pinpoint anything the Navy contributed to my art career.
Comments are welcome!
*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: If I may speak in the most general terms, several qualities come to mind that, for me, mark real artistic achievement:
- firm artistic control that allows the artist to create works that simultaneously demonstrate formal coherence while responding to inner necessity
- the creation of new forms and techniques that are adapted to expressing the artist’s highly personal vision
- an authentic and balanced fusion of form, method, and idea
- using material from one’s own idiosyncratic experiences and subtly transforming it in a personal inimitable way during the creative process
- the meaning of the thing created is rigorously subordinated to its design, which once established, generates its own internal principles of harmony and coherence
Comments are welcome!
A: There is always a long gestation period as I reflect on the new experiences, sights, sounds, etc. after a trip. Bali is a fascinating place – the only Hindu outpost in the world’s most populous Muslim country – so I’m reading everything I can find. I’ve finished an historical novel, Love and Death in Bali, about the 1906 mass suicide of the royal family during the Dutch invasion. I’m slowly making my way through Bali: Sekala and Niskala, a densely packed book about the intricacies of Hinduism, rituals, and art, written with the help of our guide, Budi. In the short term I’m using more green pastels in my paintings. Amidst all of the tropical lushness, I must have seen thousands of shades of green. The volcano shapes in “Absence,” a pastel painting completed last week (see post of JUL 20), resulted from this trip. Other, more pronounced effects will probably show up later.