Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a creative bone in my body, or a creative cell in my brain. Not often, but often enough that it can frustrate me horribly.
It’s not so much that I ‘choose’ to create, but that I ‘must’ create. It’s what I do. Pisses me off on bad days. And it can make me loathe whatever project I am working on.
Over the past few days I have been trying to get back to painting. I have done paintings that I think are good. And I have done paintings I think are, frankly, shit. And I have done paintings that during the process I have often loathed, and yet the finished product has turned out agreeably. That is, of course, disregarding the paintings I have literally chucked out over the years.
One painting I have in mind was inspired by the Smith Rock area of central Oregon that we visited a few years ago and of which I took innumerable photographs. It’s truly a dramatic and exciting spot to view with its breathtaking cragginess. It was inspiring, to say the least and I could hardly wait to get home to do a painting that captured the impact of the many scenes.
And so I got home. And so I sat down at my easel and got my paints and brushes out and, after I had chosen a photo I wanted to capture, I went to work. And I worked and I worked and as time went on and things didn’t unravel the way I wanted them to I came to loathe the painting more and more. I wanted to scrap it on endless occasions. It wasn’t ‘speaking’ to me. I know ‘speaking’ sounds fatuous, but I can think of no other term that tells me when something is working right – working smoothly.
For example I have a couple of paintings that virtually painted themselves. One is titled Molokai Dawn and the other is Kauai at Dusk (Pictured) both inspired by scenes I photographed on our Hawaiian cruise of a couple of years ago. They were so easy and were, to me, quite effective in capturing what I wanted to capture. They ‘spoke’ to me.
And then there was goddamn Smith Rock. I labored, and cast it aside, labored and cast it aside. “I hate it,” I often exclaimed to Wendy in despair. She encouraged me to persevere, protesting that she liked it. It was ‘speaking’ to her.
What I had been doing, vainly, was trying to capture a photographic image of the scene. And then I chucked that and went a bit surrealistic. Damn it, it worked! For me, finally, it spoke.
It’s a relatively big painting and it has a place of prominence in our dining room. I like it. I could almost argue that it’s my favorite painting. You might not like it at all, but as long as I like it, that’s what counts.
And that is thanks to Wendy for encouraging me to persevere.
Damn creativity sometimes hides behind the shrubbery of my own mind – and expectations.