12/19/07

hitting the pause button

I can remember when I left Arizona, after my stint working at Yellowstone, I spent a night at a truck stop in a shitty little dangerous feeling town in Wyoming. It was freezing out and I waited too long to find a place to camp, I was tired and decided to just sleep a night in my car. I managed to push most of the stuff that was in the backseat into the front, draped blankets around the windows and slept in my tiny car. But before I was to get myself situated for the night I noticed a truck next to me with a stunningly attractive woman, long blonde hair down to her ass, going into the back of her toyota and appearing to be hunkering down for the night as well.

Lila. She was about eight years younger than I was, a massage therapist AND an artist from upstate New York. Sleeping in her truck, camping, travelling all over the world....none of it was new to her. In fact it had been her life since she was a teenager. She too had panic stuff to deal with and while it was too cold to chat that night we had breakfast in the truck stop and quickly connected. Lila had similar goals, she hated massage after years of dealing with creeps and hurting her body but the art world was such a pain in the ass to break into that she all but gave up. She was a sculptor but that was too intense and expensive so she painted. She succumbed to painting landscapes while camping and selling them on the spot, she despised that too; if she had her druthers with painting it would be her crazy womb women and big round symbols.

We kept in touch via the phone, but she was hard to pin down. She would live on someones' property in the Keys; she found little trailers to rent out west. She would go on mega world trips by herself but she always came back to New York, always painted up a storm of landscapes and would sell some while also giving massages. I can remember our late night conversations about how hard it was to make it. That the money was too good with massage to stop even though it hurt us. What else could we do? DRIVE A CAB?

She would laugh if she knew that is exactly what I am trying to do. Last night I had one of my moments of peace and clarity as I sat in the cold parking lot in the taxi van, waiting for Tod to finish a run so we could do one together and I could relax with him being there in case I needed to jump out and blindly run away from my panic. I sat there and thought I don't have to do anything. I don't have to make art. I can quit. I recently got rid of the rest of my belongings in Arizona thanks to a few friends who decided to get rid of it for me. I am completely free now. I own nothing but a basement full of scrap. I could just give in and drive a damn cab. Pay off my bills, finally get the things fixed on my car and next year take off again on a camping jaunt. Maybe I will overcome my twitching nervous retina and stop panicking enough to make money. Just live with nothing and be a drone. I get it that no one cares if I make art. I have no pressure, no one is waiting, there is nothing to be done. So I've cleaned up my studio, put everything away and in place. Threw away a few pieces of art just to free myself from the boil that I felt coming to a head and have closed the door on the art world for a little bit. I'll go in there if and when I really truly want to make something. Right now I have nothing more to say or make, that could last a week, a month or whatever....but I'm free to ignore it all and that is exactly what I intend to do.

I get that some of you might think wow what a baby, she gets one little stuffy rejection letter and she quits. That isn't it. For whatever reason I don't have the resources right now to connect with the right people/places. I can't keep going further into debt buying paint and having photographs printed. Selling a few clocks here and there online isn't going to save me. No one seems to want to buy mixed media pieces online and I've no clue how to branch out. Tod is still working from the moment he wakes up til late at night and I'm busy enough helping him, making sure he has food, clean clothes and the house that we care take for gets care taked for. It's too frantic here for me to even concentrate and it isn't fun either. It isn't fun making art and pushing it into bubble wrap onto a shelf. Maybe I'll get my fire back, but for now I'm tired of the internet and tired of art.

13 comments:

Camplin said...

Blogging is a good start in connecting to people. I just visit local galleries within a 100 miles of home. I write down artists I like at group shows. I got to group shows and I talk to artists about having shows with them, give them a website. That is how I got started. I am still getting started by the way. It is mostly failure in the art world, but success is great, even if it is a small sucess of people seeing your art.

Bob Johnson said...

Never give up, never surrender, the fear of loosing something actually speeds it's loosing up, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you don't have to make art, when the pressure is off for a while the fire will come back even stronger.

Iggi Art said...

Wow! your artwork it´s amazing. so intense, explosive and surreal (sorry my english) i´m chilean illustrator, and my work is on black and white. If you have time, please visit my own site on...

www.iggiart.blogspot.com

I wait your comments.

kate said...

You've been working really hard lately with much questioning and thinking about your life going on.

Take a break, get the fire back in your belly and ease up on yourself.

JAXTER said...

Yeah, I am with Kate, take a break - you have been working non-stop for quite some time and this is one of the many ways the world tells you to take a break - albeit not the most positive way. Rejection letters are hard, there is no way around it, so take that break, don't beat yourself up for not wanting to work, or drive, or be with people.

Karen said...

Paula,
Your words carry such pain from all the stress. I am so sorry to hear this but really know what it is your saying. I feel pretty sure that most of us have been there at least a time or two. I have made my art number three on my priority list, family being one and peace of mind second. I work full time and squeeze the art in when I can. This is not to say it is easy. no. turning on and off a muse is really not something I manage well.Does anyone? I cant tell you how many times I have said enough and turned my back on art. But it is a compulsion, one that wont stay put aside for long. You will find your way back to it. when your ready it will still be there. I hope you will continue to write your blog. I can relate to the things your going through and you tell them so well. For what its worth I think your work is truly wonderful.

self taught artist said...

thanks karen and everyone else for
nice gentle comments. ebb and flow...i'll wash back to shore i'm sure. if not from utter boredom!

kate said...

please wash back to shore soon---i hope the New Year is filled with good things for you!

R said...

peace on earth...
RA

ny art critic said...

Stop please. Remove your damn finger from that pause button. Stop your damn whining and get back to work. Van Gough painted his entire career without ever selling a painting.

Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is rejection after rejection.
You my friend must decide where you seek success or greatness.

Close your eyes, paint, and be great.

There is an artist in NY doing just that. TMNK, or nobody as he calls himself. Take a page from his book. Relentlessly pursue your dreams each day without need for acceptance or recognition.

self taught artist said...

sorry i'm not going to go into debt just to make art for the basement.

self taught artist said...

i should say, go into debt any MORE. i already have and it's time to chill out.

Kris Cahill said...

Hi Paula,
Thanks for your comments on my blog.

I understand this also. It's hard to keep going and going with not much encouragement.

A book you might like to see:
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Very thoughtful and quick read. I wish you well on your path!