Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

When Faster is Better: Making My Way to Answering Questions

I’ve been trying a new thing in the studio: Not thinking too hard & working faster.
I’m going to try the same thing with blogging. Now that I work to produce (with others’ help) a quarterly art journal/blog, I have barely any writing gumption left in me. I have ideas, but no time to flesh them out. I started that post about my social media use in probably October; I planned to finish it before a show I was in, with content about internet & social media use, opened in November. It took me so long to finish writing and editing it that I didn’t post it until after the show closed in January! Ah well. Before that, August was the last time I wrote a whole lot, it was that post about my dad (losing him), and that was something that I couldn’t NOT write, I had to get it out.
Other things I’ve wanted to write about: parenting an intense kid’s sibling (hint: he doesn’t exist to make life easier); art-making vs art-buying; a snippet of a gothic phrase by Nathaniel Hawthorne that caught my attention after having visited the House of Seven Gables in Salem, MA (and subsequently reading the book). But I haven’t gotten to those, even though I have notes assembled for them, things I wanted to quote, ideas I was fleshing out. I have to take them out of the queue, because- When will I ever write them?
There’s so much I don’t have time to do. And when it comes to the studio, I can land upon an idea that captivates me, one that seems the culmination of everything that’s been on my mind as a visual artist, and I invest all this concentration into it… and then the demands of my life put all these hurdles in my way. Kid hit hard with anxiety. Diagnosis time. School IEP plans. Strep throat. Pneumonia. I’m no hurdler. So I lose the moment, the one where I was at the center of that storm of ideas that I love.
I was working on a series last summer called Core. I still plan to work on it. I was in the middle of it, and first iteration of the work was in the show I had in August. Those pieces were Concepcion #1-#9: two photographs, a work on paper, three tiny paintings on panel, two sculptures and a video. In fact, I meant to write about that series, too. Haven’t yet. … I plan, for each phase of that series, to have a name signifier, a person’s name, that captures the fictional character I’m making those artworks about. Anyway… I’ll tell more about Concepcion (and the others to come) another time… .
I also need to write about the pieces I’ve made in the past two weeks: eight paintings. I want to write about what they are to me, what they’re not. What’s missing, what’s frustrating. I want to write about what I WANT to make. What I want painting to be, or at least what I want mine to be.
I figure the only way I’m going to get any of this done, any of the making, any of the writing, any of the thoughts that I need to process, is just to write these notes for myself here, blog them out, even though hardly anyone reads this thing, right? (Not complaining, just an admission that I know this blog post is one of countless numbers of things posted to the internet just this hour. It may not even pass through the social media gatekeepers into my friends’/colleagues’ newsfeeds and no one has time to read it all even if they do see every new thing their friends have written or posted.)
I’m likewise trying to just decide something, then make that something in my studio work. I don’t want to beat an idea to death before I lay it to rest in a painting. These last eight paintings, I took the idea that had currently bounced around my head (from drawings I made on my iPad while the Super Bowl was on), and I did it, I made those paintings into being. I didn’t think about why I was making them. I didn’t think, what will other people get from them. I didn’t try to place them in conversation with anyone or anything else. I just made them as is, and I made them quickly. I’m hoping that the never ending questions I have about what I’m making get answered AS I make them. So I’m just working as fast as I can. I’m making paintings and now I’m haranguing them with questions, ones that I want to answer with the next painting, then the next one. It seems to be better than working conscientiously and hardly getting anything done. I just hope I can make sense of it sooner rather than later.

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