Archive for the ‘Perseverance’ Category
I’ve got nothing against Ron Howard, really. Opie was a cute kid. But, forgive me, so far I can’t stand anything directed by the man. I find his style sappy and emotionally overwrought.
OK. That’s about as critical and mean-spirited as you will hear me get publicly. I even struggled with using the word hate in my title. In truth, I don’t hate anyone but I’m trying to make a point here.
I picked Ron Howard because I know he can take it and I know he’s probably a really wonderful and totally sincere guy who could care less what I think. And he has touched millions of lives with his work over decades of service as an actor, writer, director and, producer.
In fact, I’m certain many of you LOVE Ron Howard. (And if I insulted you with my opening paragraph, I apologize.)
I know many of you love mushrooms, too.
Can’t stand ‘em myself.
What I am trying to stay here is taste is purely subjective.
And that’s all it is. Taste.
Feel free to ignore the people who will try to tell you their taste is the taste. The correct taste. (Ahem – art teachers, professors and critics.)
As you send your work out into the world, some people will LOVE it.
Some will hate it.
Some will say “Meh.”
That doesn’t mean your work is good.
Or even Meh.
It’s just your work. It’s the work you do.
So when everyone is patting you on the back and giving you shows and buying your work it doesn’t necessarily mean you are brilliant.
And if NO one is paying attention and you continually get rejected neither does it mean your are an idiot who should give up and go do something else.
It means nothing.
It’s just ego stuff.
Because you love this thing so much – creating, making, innovating, birthing new projects.
To continually evolve and pull ideas from deep within.
To craft and hone and love them.
Your work is a gift of love to the universe and to yourself. (You are, after all, an integral part of the universe.)
Keep on, friend.
Laura Paulini, Black Beauty
Sometimes artworks are executed quickly. We get to experience the sweet satisfaction of completion in short order. But what about those projects that that develop over months or even years? (I’m working on one myself right now.)
How do we keep going when the project takes longer than expected?
How do we keep working when the end is not clearly in sight?
Can we enjoy the process for its own sake?
I was particularly inspired by artist Laura Paulini’s shining example of perseverance recently and am eager to share it with you.
Laura builds her acrylic and egg tempera paintings by applying the paint in rows and patterns of dots, each dot of paint painstakingly applied with the end of a chopstick.
Each 40 x 40″ panel takes months to complete, row by row, dot by dot.
Nine months ago, she decided to undertake a slightly larger piece. For this 60″ x 60″ panel she also chose to create a base layer of stripes over which she will add the dots.
It took her seven months, working about four days a week to paint all the stripes for the first layer. That’s approximately 8,150 stripes each month for a total of 57,000!
I asked Laura how she kept going during a process that takes such meticulous care, attention and time.
When I started in July, I had hoped to be done by Thanksgiving. When that didn’t happen, I thought maybe by Christmas. After that, I stopped thinking too much about an expected end date and surrendered even more deeply to the process knowing I would, indeed, some day actually finish and that I just needed to keep going.
What were some of the hardest periods?
One hard period was around the holidays when time in the studio was getting compromised by outside responsibilities and distractions. I felt great concern about getting too far away from the piece and loosing momentum. Luckily, I was able to get to the studio often enough and keep the piece going.
What were some of the phases of your process that you went through during this time?
The period from October until January (the dreaded “middle”) was difficult because the density of the stripes hadn’t yet achieved that “critical mass” when the colors dance off one another and create a blend that moves the viewers eye across the piece. I felt like I could work for eight hours and then stand back and not really see any change. Once the density of the stripes was closer to final (near the end of January), each day in the studio felt very satisfying and I could make rather large “shifts” in the rhythm of the piece, getting it to work the way I had hoped. The last few weeks were really a pleasure and I found I had ambivalent feelings about finishing.
How did you carry on when you didn’t feel like working on it?
I simply tried to honor my commitment to my studio practice and show up. Once there, I quickly changed in to my work clothes, started mixing my colors, and got to work. I tried to let negative thoughts and doubts dissipate as quickly as possible and respond to them with humor. In the evenings, I would try and look at books or films that inspire and guide me. My husband and my friends have also been incredibly supportive and their enthusiasm and excitement about the piece is also very encouraging to me.
Were you tempted to take a break and work on other things?
Not really. I feel privileged to have been able to focus solely on this piece and to give myself the space and time to do it. I really never saw myself as being able to give much to another piece while this one is in process – and didn’t really want to. I’m just now being able to actually think about what might come next.
Were you tempted to give up?
Sure. It’s very easy to think of all the reasons why, too! So far I haven’t given up on this piece – or on my desire to make a contribution to the discipline of painting. I hope I can say that a year from now, two years from now, five years from now. We’ll see…