August 16, 2009

Taking Pause

A work of art is like a visual form of prayer. The depth of the artist's attention,
the prayer, is what we respond to...Our response comes from the power of the prayer that contributed to the making of the piece. The artwork lives.

Ian Roberts

I'm taking a break from printing for this week and maybe the next. First, because I haven't settled on what I my next print will be and, second, because I'm taking time to ponder. I've been doing some thinking of late, examining the work I do, how I approach it, and the direction I'm going with it as I wrestle with the doubts my "inner critic" regularly throws at me.

From when I began this whole printmaking journey I've struggled with taking what I do seriously. Maybe because I still keep wanting to think of myself as a novice. Or maybe because my day job is so far removed from anything creative and I'm surrounded, for the most part, by very left-brain, linear-thinking people, I've had a tendency to belittle what I do. Because there's a perception, in my work world, that artists are flaky. And flaky is not a good thing. Not the accepted thing.

So, while my prints are hung up all around my workstation and people sometimes stop to comment and sometimes buy, I always seem to dismiss the work as "my little hobby". But this is wrong. Because it's not a little hobby really is it? Not since I devote as much free time as possible to thinking about it, pursuing it, and learning as much as I can about it. Yet if I don't view what I do seriously, then how will it ever be taken as such?

In an effort to get away from this restrictive and destructive way of thinking, one of the things we did on our recent vacation is to visit Banyen Books, always both a treat and a daunting experience, and I picked up a couple of books.

The first, Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts. The author is a painter but that doesn't matter. The principles he talks about are universal and the book is amazing. It resonates with me on so many different levels I don't want to stop reading and I know I'm going to go right back to the beginning when I'm done and start over. It's quite honestly the most inspirational thing I've read in years. It's addressed so many of the questions I barely even acknowledged until I read the answer. And it's forced me re-evaluate the things that are, or should be important if I want to recognize myself as an artist and not just someone with a "little hobby".

The second book, completely different, is Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel. It's also a good read although definitely more "Californian": wittier, edgier, yet, ironically (?), it doesn't seem as soulful. But I'm only two chapters into it so it's too soon to tell and it, too, has me thinking.


Eraethil said...

Really enjoyed reading this post. I'm glad you are recognizing your art as a professional endeavor now. I can't wait to see how your work progresses as a result of this internal metamorphosis!

Annie B said...

Thanks for the mention of "Creative Authenticity" - sounds like an excellent book.

Jen said...

Oh Katka, I just got "Coaching the Artist Within" from the library on your recommendation- OMG this book is amazing!!!!!!!!


Katka said...

Thank you. I hope there will be a positive change.

Annie and Jen,
I'm so glad the books appeal. Both are actually good. I wasn't far enough into the second (Coaching the Artist) when I wrote the post but I'm getting a lot out of it too, in a different way from the first one.