Tagged discovery

Building Something, and I’m Not Sure What

There are a lot of moments in art where I have an idea for a project or series of things, but I don’t know if it’ll result in anything fully realized or not.

Creative life is full of false starts and failures. Sometimes there are successes. You need some of the former to discover the latter. I remember thinking a particular series of paintings I was working on in art school were going to be received well and progress in a predictable path. But then they ended up not going anywhere, or the execution didn’t match my vision. Sometimes, a project that became one of those little triumphs or breakthroughs wasn’t much of anything until there were two of them.

You just have to trust your instincts and your dedication, and keep moving forward, that’s all I can gather. And then you see where it’s gone when it seems like it’s finished.

Keep Looking. No, Harder. More. Again.

Just a reminder here—because most of us need reminding, now and again—to keep looking at everything around you. Noticing things others don’t notice is part of being an artist. You have to be able to convey a vision to the world, either an internal or a translated external one (come to think of it, inner visions have to be translated themselves).

In order to fully convey your vision to us, you need to have seen and absorbed what you’re putting down for others. You can’t do that unless you’re really good at seeing stuff.

It’ll seem too simple at first. Then, as you keep noticing and looking deeper and longer, you start to see that it’s almost infinitely complex, and you could get lost in the most mundane slice of your day. But don’t stop. The idea for your next thing comes from what you see and how much and how far you see into it.

Spend Some Time Watching the World Go By

I moved to Portland without a car. One of the things I wanted to do in this new place was to try to reassess my consumption and use of resources. Giving up driving—at least for a while—seemed like a good means to that end.

And it’s mostly been eye-opening. Not only have I been able to get around on public transit, I’ve been able to spend some time just looking around me as I move.

Rambling, Randomness, and the Persistence of Tiredness

Yesterday’s post was quite the incoherent jumble, I realized on waking up. I metaphorically scratched my head for way too long, trying to figure out what I was wanting to say. I’m still not quite sure. I did, however, realize I spelled Hilma af Klint’s name wrong, and mea culpa for that.

Most of life has randomness in some degree. Mistakes, people we meet, decisions made by a thousand people around us that connect in unseen ways. The best we can do is to try to observe it and how it joins ideas and thoughts. That’s the best way to discover newness, which is really just an unusual combination of things that exist in the world already.

Hail Hilma af Klint, Pioneer Abstract Painter

Only now is the depth of her insight and discoveries widely known. She never exhibited her abstract work, pretending to the outside world she was working in a conventional way. This NY Times article covers the Guggenheim retrospective currently on display.

We should understand there’s likely lots of innovative and wondrous work out there, being done without acclaim or attention. Had af Klint not been encouraged to keep her brilliance secret, she might be known as the mother of abstract painting.

If You Don’t Feed the Fire, You Can Only Work by the Light of the Embers

That’s my attempt to be quotable. Without sassy characters spouting this stuff, we’re left with titles. This one should be the retort of Jen, the younger sister of a cynical, burned-out musician named Josh. Hm.

Hold on, let me just write down this pitch for a show.

What I’m talking about, though, is making sure you have enough fuel to burn. Never mind inspiration, you need stuff to steal from. As much art as you can handle stuffed in you so it mixes into a stew with all the other art you see and hear.

Go to galleries, web sites, shows, concerts, forums, colleges, museums, streaming TV, magazines, libraries.

And then? I don’t know how or why, but unless you’re trying yo be like one specific person, your things come out different. Art magic.

Thinking About How We Approach Thinking About Art

I know, it sounds convoluted to me, too. What I’m pondering is how the mindset we have when we encounter something, “an art,” affects how we experience it.

From personal anecdata, pushing aside as much as I can any preconceptions about it. I’d like to think we experience an elevated state from accepting and examining a work, in other words giving it a chance to be its best.

This probably deserves fleshing out further, later.

The Lesson Learned Isn’t Always the Lesson Expected

It isn’t even the lesson being taught. Whether by yourself or someone playing the role of your teacher, what we learn to do and to be can be unexpected and surprising.

The important thing is to be open to it. To watch for change and insight. Understanding is often simple and incremental. Very little in our creative lives is sudden or obvious.

Photo Stream of Every Floor’s Glass Tile Mural in My Building

Opposite the elevators in my apartment building on every floor is a glass tile mural. The colors and pattern are different on every floor. I’ve been wanting to check out the differences, and today I decided to take a photo of all of them, so I walked floor-to-floor by the stairs as a kind of micro-pilgrimage.

It’s thrilling to see such a variety of colors and sequencing, and I wish I knew who designed/installed them because a lot of care and thought clearly went into the choices.

This sort of public art is an endearing kind. Something meant for just those who live next to it, but available to curious others and visitors. It’s abstract contemporary stuff, sure, but it’s also got some of the cultural connection most murals have.