How Much of This is Twaddle? — assessing one’s output at 80.
Basically I’m a visual artist.
If I had had to learn a complicated machine in order to make art, very likely I would not be a visual artist, because I get frustrated and give up, by nature. I am one of those humans who likes some measurable success early in my efforts to keep the drive going. (Piano lessons did not last.)
You can see that personal trait in the clutter here in the studio. If I had a dime for every unfinished project sitting here being “halfway done” I would use it for a trip to some waterside shingled cottage for a week or ten on the edge of the Nantucket Sound some September while the water is still warmish.
But I do have a few things hanging in people’s collections, both in homes and in public buildings. Some of them are less finished than they should be. People just liked them and so there they are hanging out there for all to see! So it has not been a waste — all this graphic output.
But the much stuff that sits in boxes here and in storage?
Embarrassing, really, except they stand for some effort put forth, and that is better than quitting.
Writing, too, is like that. I have a stack of stuff, both handwritten and digital, that is on the verge of being zapped into nothing one of these days. How in the world would my kids get rid of all this half-baked, and sometimes really BAD art and writing? Among the twaddle there is a gem or two in my opinion. I liked them better over time — when I read them now I think, “hey, this is really quite good!”
When you hit 80 you think about things like that.
Life Review, I have been told, is something humans do all the time, but more frequently as age creeps in. I have so much to review! If I had routinely edited my output with the help of a canny curator or agent, there would be much less.
But I love some of the bad stuff for special personal reasons.
Why do I keep this bad stuff around?
Well, it’s like a favorite old tablecloth. Or a high school class ring. Or a certificate of membership. Or swimming medals!
There is historic significance in such old stuff, to at least one person.
There’s that painting I did of myself when I was hopping mad and “PWI.”
Painting while intoxicating myself with a bottle of wine that day in New Jersey when I had had a fight with my fellow human and was furious and slammed myself into a room and spilled the emotional bile out on the painting.
Why keep this? To whom will it be important? To me, I say. It is like a passport imprint. Part of some important, painful history. But history that anyone else cares about? Not really. And unfinished, surely. Hopefully my anger has long since worn off as my personal lessons were learned.
There is unfinished writing about this passage in my life. Doubtful that I might really publish this stuff, when I think of whether it would improve the world to have it out there. But that writing is important to my processing through a dreadful period in my life.
How about this record, speaking of self portraits:
Who would really want that face hanging on a wall, I ask? In fact who would want to live with that face in their lives at all? Well, I know where that face came from. I know a lot of people who resonate with this portrait of a depressed woman. And that moment is worth remembering, and possibly would be useful as an expression of empathy with those who are depressed. Maybe useful to myself now and then when I feel down.
So, introspective me — tonight I wonder whether writing about this sort of output is worth sharing with others.
After all, if I had become a famous writer, relics from my existence might be recycled in the kindest way.
If I were Rembrandt or Hitler, all of my art would be collectible for reasons of fame and reputation, good or bad. I’m not Rembrandt, alas, or Hitler, thank heavens!
So here I am putting out some text about my status in this moment on the day after my birthday at almost five o’clock in the morning, and it’s much the same as the two paintings above — — a memento of a moment of Being.
Well, they say it’s good to be mindful.
So I guess it’s all right to share it, even if no one cares about all this. Even if I am only rattling on at my own reflection.
SGHolland© Feb 20 2018