There’s a specific window of time necessary for me to like something I made. Immediately after I finish something, when I look at it in it’s entirety for the first time instead of focusing on details, is usually when my hatred is strongest. The next day, I’m a little kinder, Then I have about a year before I hate it again. Abstracts so far have been unusual in that it depends entirely on how I look it it. My feelings toward them flip back and forth at unparalleled rates. Naturally, that makes things more difficult when I try to sell anything I make. My assurances that I’ll eventually be a rich and famous author are lost on Dad, who’s trying to teach me to “value my product” or something. Self marketing is a definitely a blind spot for me, and I’m sure for a lot of other people in creative markets in general. The problem is the objective nature of the product. I saw a piece of art today that had been carefully hung and lit, and occupied a prominent place in a house. I wasn’t really a fan, but the owner clearly saw something in it that I didn’t see. In a way it was validating. There was a market for this thing that I couldn’t value. Maybe the same can be said for my paintings. I can’t value them now, but maybe one day I will be able to. Or maybe I’ll find their market, whether I value them or not.
These little guys have Dad’s stamp of approval. He assured me he was being objective, but I’m not sure I buy it. Either way, he suggested I make little labels for them, like they do in art galleries. Who I am, what they are, 1 of 2, etcetera. I did, to make them look more official, and possibly worth human money. I also signed them all with a pin while hyped up on caffeine, which added it’s own level of difficulty.
It kind of did help me look at them more objectively. I still feel weird about charging a person money for something I painted. Even if it did take hours and little paintbrushes and money towards supplies.
I’ve started yet another new project. My sister has a lot of blank wall space, and we were talking this weekend about the possibility of me painting her something. Our parents have a few abstract paintings in their house that my sister and I always liked growing up, so she’d like to continue the tradition and get some abstracts for her house too. But preferably for free. I’ve never attempted abstract art, but I’m always up for a challenge. Earlier this week, I went to the art supply store to pick up a few new canvases. I bought a few 20″ by 20″s, but they also had 4″ by 5″s, which are insanely adorable. I bought three, because I have no self control. And because I have a tiny easel which I used to use for post it notes. It was fate. Probably. So I’m using them for practice.
So far, it’s not what she’s looking for. But this entire experience has been charming. I think she wants a more muted color pallet, which, fair. They are a little obnoxious. But I can’t help that art is a reflection on the artist. Besides, I’m keeping all the tiny trial canvases.
I think a lot about my future. I’m still in school, I’m unemployed-or as my mother would say, I’m a full time student, which feels a lot like not working-so everything about the future, from the answers to strangers’ questions about what exactly my major has prepared me for and what I hope to do when I “grow up” to where I’ll be in fifty years, might as well be a pool of primordial ooze. I have no answers, just questions. It makes me introspective and annoyingly self interested, but it also has me looking around more than I ever really have. Looking at other people’s plans, other people’s goals, and of course, the things other people create. The problem is in comparing my work to other people’s.
I smell like paint for a while after I wash my hands. The scent always lingers. There are times I never really lose the paint smell. But lately, it’s been rare. What I paint doesn’t seem worth it. I look at my work, and it just looks so clumsy. I start to hate it, and resent myself for making it. It’s hit and miss for the most part. Sometimes things come out looking more or less how I pictured them in my head. Sometimes, they… don’t.
And I think the comparison is what makes it worse. It puts expectations in my head, along with the imagined expectations of those around me. Sometimes I worry that I’m not creative, but subconsciously piggyback on the works of others. I draw from reference photos, and stories I love have a habit of bleeding onto the page when I try to write. But mostly, I think it just makes me look negatively at my own work, rather than inspire me.
I saw an interview with an actress ages ago, I can’t remember who it was now, who was asked by the interview who’s acting career she would like if she could choose. I’m paraphrasing, but her response was essentially this, “I don’t want anyone’s career but my own.” She was focused on her own career. She wasn’t looking around, but ahead. So I tell myself, “Don’t cry alone in your room because you aren’t Neil Gaiman.” I think for the most part, it’s good advice. The world already has a Neil Gaiman, I have to look ahead, and now want anyone’s career but my own.