24 October 2011

A quote I was left with.

No, not "Eat the Rich."

I spent the weekend sketching the "Occupy L.A" people at City Hall. Among the hemp whiffs and other kinds of whiffs,  the deep/obtuse/erratic discussions and the general lovely/disappointing/energizing  mess of it all  I read some of the scribbled quotes and bumper-sticker demands/prayers/statements. Some of them in flyers or scribbled on cardboard, some of them had to do with art and they boil down to one thing:  Fear versus being and loving. I found this quote by Ira Glass especially true:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have "good taste". But there is this gap. For the first couple of years we make stuff, uit is just -not that good-. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it is not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I now who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it is normal and that the most important thing you can do is DO A LOT OF WORK. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It's only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I ever met. It's gonna take a while. It's normal to take awhile. You just gotta fight your way through. "   -Ira Glass

I would add, we are all beginners anyway so while the deadline is a great idea, I don't see the closing of the gap as a final stage but an aspirational one.

And I would also add that "fighting" involves doing a LOT of work but also  being SMART about it so as not to repeat failure too often. In the case of painting, same habits will produce same results and delay our ambitions further. Someone  said it is unwise to expect different results with the same thinking that led to errors.  So capitalizing on partial successes is important but so is seeking out instruction and challenge.

Art 's function is to give shape to life experience. It is no wonder then that fear (of failure) shapes our art as well. I find it comforting  that this is  normal even if it is frustrating.


Judy P. said...

It is comforting indeed- good stuff here.
You found this wise quote in the midst of an erratic, noisy rally?
The mind boggles!

Marian Fortunati said...

All of it... the deep thoughts, the observations, the artwork...

Just WOW...