Just like “Blueprint For a Successful Evening,” this isn’t really a new piece. I originally “finished” it in December 2013 and until recently it’s existed in limbo. It felt finished but I didn’t like it enough to actually do anything with it. I took it back out on May 15th and put another fifteen to twenty hours into it and now I’m finally happy with it. It used to look like this:
The journals I wrote around it back then aren’t particularly interesting. It’s a whole lot of “I don’t feel okay but I know that I don’t have anything to not feel okay about.” It’s disturbingly similar to the shit I was writing last night. It was only about a month later that I totally rearranged my life and got a lot happier. Makes me think that maybe I need to do the same thing again but I’m not sure exactly what that would mean this time around.
Aside from the main caption, I Feel “Weird” When I’m Unconsciously Unwilling to Admit What’s Really Going On, the only text in this piece says: “I’m playing with textures because I hate myself.” Someone had told me (back when I made this piece “the first time”)| that my art was “too flat”; for some reason, I listened and that’s why I created a bunch of different textures in this piece. It’s [whatever]. It’s all part of the process of figuring out what’s me and what’s some other artist. I don’t seek out advice and I definitely don’t ever seek out art by anyone else (for comparison or for any purpose) but little things leak in to my head now and then that either take hold or don’t and that’s okay.
From my journal yesterday, immediately after finishing this painting:
I’ve got some cute little one-liners. I’ve got some snappy phrases that sound cool but don’t really mean anything. I don’t want to bullshit and I don’t wanna tag this with something that doesn’t represent it.
It took FOREVER to paint. So many layers, so much starting from scratch.
The truth is I’m sick, on the couch, and nothing is in my head. The truth is I’m not always SUPER BRILLIANT. And I don’t wanna not create just ’cause [whatever]. But I don’t really know what’s driving me right now. Maybe it’s just ’cause it’s what I feel like I’m supposed to do at this point. Which is lame but maybe that’s okay. I don’t know. Do I take a break or do I just keep going? Having a cold sucks. Feeling crummy physically is fucking with my ability to DO, which is fucking with my emotional well-being. Tomorrow I’m gonna get dressed and pretend I’m fine. Maybe I am. I guess?
I HATE giving the impression that I’m not doing well, especially when I’m not not doing well. I just have a cold! But if “success” is doing well (being happy) maybe it’s also being okay with acknowledging little hang-ups and demonstrating a progression beyond the pink cloud.
Maybe I’m too caught up in impressions in the first place. Living under a spotlight (even a little one) has its drawbacks. I hate feeling like (or realizing) that it’s influencing me in what I do or how I do it but – honestly – I wouldn’t be pushing myself like this if I didn’t feel like there was some expectation that I “produce.” Is that good or bad? I wanna call it ambition but it makes me feel small (I’m not a famous/important artist); it makes me feel like a joke. But I’m not. I’m okay. I just need to chill out.
It’s a fine line between humility and insecurity – between arrogance and self-esteem. I get carried away in both directions. I don’t need to “tenth step” my every thought / impulse. Hey, Sam: relax – everything’s cool. I know.
I saw this article today about creativity. There were two statements I really identified with.
“The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests.”
“To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.“
That last part seemed especially relevant right now, given this new painting and last night’s journal entry. As I wrote about it, on the canvas [near top-center], “I can’t get to a place where I feel okay with what I’ve done.”
It made me think about what it means to be “beyond the pink cloud.” I think it means accepting that life isn’t always going to be 100% awesome all the time. I used to think that the most a person could hope for was “to be happy 50% of the time.” I don’t think that’s true anymore, but I still think it gets to something that might be true. I think a good aspiration might be “to be 50% happy all of the time” – by which I mean: even when things aren’t going so great, to be able to pause and recognize that I’m at least 50% okay… that some thing might be wrong – but not every thing is wrong; most things are okay.
“Fragile is the hell we make for ourselves when we acknowledge that the spotlight’s on.” – from Fuck You, Ms. Rochelle by Dillinger Four