Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Problem in the Process

The problem in the process may just be the secret to the magic in the outcome.

I fight against this feeling of failure as I labor away at paintings. Upon beginning any project, I immediately make mistakes that seem impossible to recover from. I deviate from my intention. I plunge from casual fun, laying down underpainting layers and washes with not a care in the world, into the icy waters of doubt. I look at this abomination that I have birthed, wondering what I was thinking. How did I stray so far from the easy answer that would have taken mere hours to complete as opposed to  weeks or months?

It seems wrong. It seems not worth the effort. It feels like a terrible mistake. At least when I was working as a surveyor, my worth as a person was not continually jeopardized. As an artist, I eat self doubt for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But, maybe this is exactly the way in which part of my very soul honest-to-goodness leaks out and bonds with the piece of artwork. And that is what brings the art out of the realm of decoration and into the realm of magic. Transcendence. Eternity. Perhaps this struggle, ugly and humiliating, is the only way to get there.

As long as I persist, I will end up intertwined with this art. I will find the solutions to the problems, and as imperfect as the outcome will surely be, it will be my solution and no one else's. I will have done my duty, and bled onto the canvas.

What we love most about great works (even if it is only subconsciously) is that we can feel the humanity of the artist or author or musician in the work that they present. We feel the pain and the part of themselves that was smeared across the pages in the process. And that, we relate to. That, we appreciate. The secret to success was certainly never in the correctness, the perfection, the accurateness of the piece. Never. The successes are found in the mistakes and the attempts to dig back out from them. The moments when the artist thinks there will be no escape this time. No good ending to this tale. All is lost. All is lost to the struggle. But that is exactly where it is all found.