really the last thing i want is to just babble ad nauseam about all the stuff i just babbled about below. but after writing that post, spending the day doing whatever it is i do and going off to the university library to get away from here i came home to a comment from andrea and started to realize the more i tried to answer her comment question the more that i saw most of that stuff wasn't exactly what the problem is.

yes the money thing IS a problem. and living somewhere else, more beautiful or fun or distracting...sociable etc probably wouldn't solve much. i'm reminded by tod that i was just as struggly in vermont. and while it is already obvious this realization, it wasn't OBVIOUS until i had a 3 hour sit down talk with tod last night and i heard myself say two things that finally made me realize why i'm so fucking miserable. 1) i can't see 95% of my materials. everything is in boxes, on shelves, stacked high. i can't GET to my stuff and can't lay it out. i can barely work. i feel like i am making art with a blindfold on and my arms tied behind my back. its maddening to the point of implosion. no wonder i'm going nuts. it's like being a chef and all your food and spices are sealed up in boxes on shelves and every time you want to make something you don't even know what you can make because you dont know what you have and it's so much of a chore to find things you just keep making different kinds of omelette's because all you ever have in your fridge are eggs (in my case its the scrap wood i have growing like a fungus all around me).

the other realization i had ~ something that i guess never occurred to me, finally hit me over the head like a ton of bricks and i might not have concluded unless i started making those little wood assemblages is this: it scares the shit out of me to be an artist. to make something that has no 'real meaning'. to devote my time, my life towards creating something that barely makes any sense to ME let alone to anyone else feels insane.

when i was at the library with tod he grabbed a book by eve hesse and i by the great john chamberlain, i whipped through it, showing tod pieces that just spoke volumes to me, he showing me the work's by eva that especially spoke to him. John's work hits me in the gut and strikes me with a sense of power and beauty that exceeds any verbal description. eve's work had a this mysterious and powerful essence, even if i didn't care for it that much i could see something in it that helped to form my realization later that night about art and how scary it is. how scary it is. that doesn't even describe it. remember that houston post i wrote a few weeks ago, how i said on our drive home that tod all of a sudden looked out the car window and exclaimed '99% of what is out there we dont want'. well guess what, that 99% of the population probably doesn't want what i do. they dont get it. hell i dont even get it. i'm not sure i have the energy or words to relay my thoughts. not even sure it matters. but it feels like i owe it to myself and you to at least be truthful once i know what the truth is. and the truth of the matter is i'm learning what many of you already know about being an artist. i forget exactly how tod phrased it but he said i couldn't be in both worlds. i was talking about how i don't like the pomp and circumstance that surrounds art after the fact of its incarnation. the grandiosity of it even though i can sometimes feel it in others' works (ie john chamberlain), i struggle with how much 'importance' is placed on a body of work. a piece of something someone made that seemingly has no use or value. thats when he said i couldn't be in both worlds. i can't be objective. i have to focus on making the art and let that other stuff roll away from me.

long and short of it, tod told me that everything that happens after i make the art should be looked at as just a means to enable me to keep making art. if i feel uncomfortable about what it means or in my case DOESN'T mean (since nothing i make has any intellectual meaning to me), then so be it. i worry why would anyone want to help me and by that i mean the people who have given me access to materials/gallery space etc, i worry i owe them and cannot understand the why's or hows of people being interested and wanting to contribute to an artists life, the best thing for me to do is not think about it and just allow myself to accept when i receive and try to allow myself the space in my being to create and not THINK. i'm not relaying this very well, my mind feels like it short circuited last night from all the exploration and discovery i had in talking it out with tod. perhaps this can't really be explained, relaying it verbatum doesn't matter, i processed what i needed to process. i found an 'in' to my confusion and fear.

and here i am today. feeling intellectually better because I at least feel I have more awareness. and i will go back into my stuffed clogged up studio that frustrates the fuck out of me and beat my head against the wall as usual. and i will try to be gentle even though i really want to be mean and caustic. gentle with whatever it is in me that is trying to just BE and express. i keep beating that person up and ridiculing her. making her wrong or stupid for doing something the other me thinks makes no sense.


andrea said...

You are very brave. I'm too much of a chicken shit to discuss this stuff on my blog and as a result, probably won't make the kind of headway you made the last couple of days just coming to grips with it. Writing about it and "opening up a dialogue" (doesn't THAT sound like New-Age-speak) is an important part of it.

paula said...

not sure i see bravery is it andrea but i do see the value in sharing because people such as yourself shed light on things, or ignite further dialogue and possibility for insight. so thank YOU.

Ellen said...

I've been following along feeling like a bit of an a**hole friend for not commenting or offering words of encouragement. I do feel for you, but have been in too a superficial place to formulate my thoughts. One thing I did want to say that you said to me at one point, is 'methinks you think too much' :).
I've been in a place of anxiety, panic attacks, questioning the meaninglessness of wanting to be an artist, and feeling passion for what I like in art and scathing negative judgment for what I don't like. And secretly feeling fear from my own lack of confidence because of my self defeating attitude of perfectionism. All while hating where I lived and being dirt poor. So I can relate. The years are mostly long gone but they took their toll, I feel like only NOW have I really let go of all that and made peace with the inner demon.
Whose to say what has meaning in life. If the compulsion to make art has been part of who we are since we scrawled on cave walls, then it MUST have meaning(s). It's not your job to have the answer just go and be part of it if the process gives you joy.

Maybe you need to art focus right now, like finish the RR plate clocks or maybe work on a single large project? Were you thinking of combining the wood assemblages into something big? You seem to love the big monumental art pieces of other artists (and I get why you do, your artists finds are fabulous) so let go of the fear, push the furniture aside and do one of your own:). Lose yourself in something that inspires you and stop thinking for a while. Tod will understand.

paula said...

ellen, dont feel like an ahole..are you kidding?
what you just wrote makes my posts look like baby talk.
thank you for sharing your voice here. very wise and more of what i need to hear/see/understand.
as far as focusing on rr plates or bigger etc. i dont have the room. half my stuff is in storage the other all in boxes, it just isn't the time. its hard to get lost right now when i have little psychic or real space to work in. i am doing the best i can with what space i have.

ArtPropelled said...

I can see why you love John Chamberlain's work. Amazing!

One of the many things I've learned here is that getting it off your chest and receiving feedback from bloggers helps to work through things and in the process everyone is learning ... benefiting. I agree with Andrea. You ARE brave. In many ways.

paula said...

thanks robyn. i have to say i'm usually exhausted and embarrassed afterwards but it helps when i feel completely ready to burst and have no outlet in my real life. i try to do this less....guess it was long overdue. feedback is valued more than anything else good or bad....it taps me on the shoulder and reminds me. makes me think. god knows i am NOT alone and NOT unique as an artist but i sometimes forget and lose my way.

Jeana Marie said...

in a small way I've been going through something similar...perhaps just at the end of it. HAving a good look at my life, realising the only reason I can be at home with my family exploring art is because of Peter's support, which is given lovingly and freely...but then I kept thinking about what if something happened to him, how could art making take care of myself and my family...on and on. These things come up and we process them, some give it a voice in their art. Glad you were able to sit down and share yourself with Tod and feel growth for it...I hope the space issue is something that comes together for you soon, it sounds as you say totally frustrating.

paula said...

i wondered about you...you'd been quiet yourself lately. busy with family i supposed.
isn't it interesting how we can get worked up about things that aren't even happening and when we experience what IS happening aren't even present half the time. you are lucky to have that support Jeana, and i'm lucky to have tod.
i suppose we are lucky to be making art period, to whatever capacity we can and do. thanks for caring...i'm sure something will happen sooner than later if i keep searching and dont give up.

Colleen Kole said...

Don't give up -it is what you are. I knew I liked your tod-so good to have support. I know from what i saw at the West Branch Gallery-that you feel this thing that is art to you. I trust it will come -hopefully soon.

Melody said...

That was one awesome post. Thanks from all us other artists out there for being so very honest. I can identify....

Cynthia said...

Paula, this post seems like a breakthrough of some kind...mental, emotional, intellectual, psychic...I'm not sure what but those two realizations are HUGE. I can relate to the frustration of not seeing your materials, not when I'm watercoloring but when I'm making collages and everything is spread out and covered and lost. Yours is much more limiting as it is 3-D and actually packed away. So then my mind starts racing to figure out how you could solve this, but space is finite and you only have so many square feet. But doesn't the fact that you uncovered a huge source of frustration make it better? I don't mean ALL better.

I admire your courage, as I've told you, not just in your choices and lifestyle, but in your willingness to wrestle this all out here in your blog.

I love your use of the word "struggly!" Hope today is good.

paula said...

colleen, i'm sure i will never give up until i've given 110%!
melody, thank you!
cynthia...yes. it IS a breakthrough. i can stop beating myself up now and its so OBVIOUS about the boxes and space thing but for some reason i just wasn't seeing it makes all the difference identifying a major source of frustration YES!
thank you for caring.

San said...

I haven't been around in a while, Paula. But I have to admit: I always enjoy your rants. All of us feel this way sometimes and it's good to hear the echo boomeranging back.

That crumpled assemblage at the top echoes it all too. Nice.