July 19, 2011

Learning From Others

I guess I've been doing a bit too much “poor me” whining, mainly on the usual theme of lack of creative time etc. etc., because the last couple of days sent a couple of gifts (as if to say: “enough self-pity already; life isn’t as bad as all that”) that have led me to see my work a little differently.  
The first came through one of the two books I’m reading: What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – a collection of articles he wrote for the New Yorker over a number of years.  He’s a great writer so all the articles have, so far, been interesting and entertaining.  But there were also a few with the kind of information that’s fascinating yet, in the case of a brain like mine, immediately forgotten.  I imagine I’d love to be one of those people who can quote facts and figures as if they’re reading an encyclopaedia visible only to themselves, but no matter how I strive to etch specific logistic details into memory, they rarely stay there long enough for me to re-quote them. 
Yesterday though, I started on an article I’d do well to remember (and I hope I will):  Late Bloomers...Why Do We Equate Genius With Precocity? In an examination, and repudiation, of the idea that:
"doing something truly creative…requires freshness and exuberance  and energy of youth     
the article, among other things, draws a comparison between the work and creative approaches of Picasso, as the youthful prodigy, and Cezanne, as the late bloomer, and describes how very different the working methods of both men were.  It’s actually hugely inspiring to me…reading about Cezanne’s lifelong struggle for perfection and about how many canvases he destroyed because they never captured what he intended them to.  And I was amazed to read he never had his first solo art show until he was 56!  In Cezanne’s day 56 must have seemed nearly done with! 
Hard as I try not to, I do at times fall into the downward spiral of negative thinking and regret my years of creative inertia.  Which of course leads to the whole “time is slipping through my fingers” panic.  So it’s good to be reminded, as often as possible in my case perhaps, that every artist is different, that the important thing is just to do the work and to hell with trying to draw comparisons between myself and someone else in vastly different circumstances.  Sometimes,  slow and steady does win the race, even if the race is only with my own shadows.  Besides, 56 still seems like a long enough time away. 
The second gift came in the form of the lovely write-up my Dreams print got in a blog post by printmaker Martha Knox, on her blog: Words on Woodcuts.  It’s immensely gratifying that someone else, a peer, likes something I’ve created enough to actually take the time to write good things about it.  And it’s wonderful to learn how others interpret my work and what they see in it. 
It’s been an uplifting couple of days and, on that positive note, finally, here is this week’s installment of the latest print:

So far so good... 


Andrew Stone said...

Nice landscape.
It reminds me a bit of the old Fortune magazine covers of the 1930s.
Modern but with a retro air.
In part it's the colors, in part the way you handle shapes and line.
Very restful and moody at the same time.
I like it a lot.

Jennifer Tetlow said...

What a great post - and one I will also try to remember - interesting debate - I do find when I am creating and output is going well, I feel suddenly extremely youthful and exuberant - don't you?!

Annie B said...

Ooh, I like it a lot. A little bit like some of the sosaku mokuhanga landscapes I love so much.

I'm a late bloomer too. I try not to worry too much about it, but it's hard during down periods. I can relate.

Katka said...

Thank you so much for your great comments everyone.

Andrew and Annie,

Dare I confess I'm not familiar either with Fortune magazine or with sosaku mokuhanga landscapes? (Of course, now I know what I'll be Googling next.)
Maybe it just goes to show, we're always channeling something or someone else, even when we think we're being "ourselves".


Yes, absolutely I feel youthful and charged when things are going well. My husband calls it "connected to the 'flow'". I'd say this is because the creative energy we tap into is outside the limits imposed by concepts like "time" or "age".