When I was a kid my dad used to hang out in the basement a lot. Before you get all crazy it wasn’t like he was hanging out in a root cellar or anything. Actually, he was. That’s where we kept the piano. But it wasn’t like it was dark or depressing or too spidery. Think folksy and warm. Like being at Winnie the Pooh’s if he had a Mason & Hamlin. Anyway, my dad was artistic and one night when I got bored watching BJ & the Bear I went downstairs to bug him. He had made something like this. Just a bunch of multi-colored squares he had drawn with colored pencils. “I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I just like it.”
Hardly seems worth quoting, but for some reason that image always stuck with me. I liked it too. Very symmetrical. Very predictable. Very pleasing. Very unlike the rest of my relationship with my dad. Of course you can insert you own distant father story here so I don’t need to get into the particulars. Suffice it to say, that picture has stayed lodged in my brain for 25 years and served as the springboard tonight.
This work – I am going to experiment with calling my stuff “works” just to see if I can tolerate it – was done on something a little nicer than construction paper using precut tissue paper squares. I bought a package of 5000 about 7 years ago at Big Lots and they’ve been sitting in a plastic pencil box mocking me ever since. I got glue and water in an old yogurt cup and painted on glue squares and topped them with tissue paper. I thought about getting a tweezers to put on the squares, but my foot hurt and I didn’t feel like getting up. Good choice. Worked fine without it.
The face is leftover from a previously short-lived art phase. It’s made from Michaels “fancy” clay that I shoved into some set of Easter Island style faces. I love it. That’s why I have been moving it around with a pile of receipts and old magazines for the last 4 years. I just couldn’t bear to get rid of it. I’m glad it finally earned it’s keep tonight.
So this piece – again, can I take it? – took about 25 minutes. Although it was probably no more than 10 minutes to put it together I count the first 15 minutes as the most important. Why? Because that’s when I had to come up with something and figure out how much time I was willing to commit to doing it. I’ll be honest -the kids got to bed late tonight and I wanted to watch a movie with my husband. But, I also started this thing because not doing something creative has backfired on me. It makes me cranky when I don’t have an outlet. The idea of being creativity was easy-ish to maintain for a few days, but the more you do it the more likely it will be that it will actually be bad. And then that won’t be so clever and god knows I want to be clever.
Tonight was about getting comfortable with not creating something that will likely ever see any revision. It is a rough draft in the roughest sense of the word (the face isn’t even glued on.) I am surprised that the most uncomfortable part wasn’t doing the work, but the gut-churning precursor. That part where you’re sitting there so I guess you’re going to make something, but what? And what if it just sucks? Can I survive it?
In your face, art!