If you read my post about my painting slump, and if you saw my instagrams about my New York trip, you might wonder if the two are related. Long story short: I haven't been using Studio Night for painting, and I needed a jolt for my art-making. So I spent a weekend in New York by myself looking at art.
One thing I realized before my trip is that the only incentive that I have to make art is the soothing of my soul, and I think my soul often comes last on my list. I've been in a mode of working, deadlines, responsibilities, and expectations, and I don't want to tie art-making to that, I just want to make it. I thought what might help to get me there would be looking at all of the art.
I went to the Museum of Modern Art and spent some time with Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series. It is rare to see these 60 paintings all together. They are small, numbered, and accompanied by text. I was especially interested in the narrative aspect, since the series I've been working on/wanting to work on is very narrative. So I was looking at them wondering if they would work without text, and of course they would. Narrative art has been made since the cave paintings, so I don't know why I need validation, but I do. Anyway, the show was lovely and I enjoyed going through it at my own pace.
After that I asked someone at an information desk what the special exhibit was on the 6th floor. "Just Yoko Ono." So I went to the 5th floor to my favorite room, where all of the Matisse paintings live, and I met a new (to me) Matisse painting called the Moroccans. It is large and gorgeous and a lot of the background is black, which is unexpected. The rest of it is light - pinks, blues, ochres, grays. The painting is made up of three images: one in the upper left, one in the lower left, one on the right side. Each of these is separated by a black space. Of course I started to think "Is this how I should arrange my paintings?!" because my current series is paintings comprised of more than one scene. So I invoked one of my rules for this trip: Calm the F down.
Since I was only looking after myself while traveling, I required rules this time in order to get the maximum enjoyment out of the trip. 1) No second-guessing. 2) No guilt. 3) Calm the F down. The third one is a little phrase I say to myself when I get overly anxious.
Anyway, the Moroccans could possibly be my new favorite Matisse.
On Friday I also went to dinner with Paul Behnke and Robin Stout, and we talked about art and writing and New York and traveling, and I ate gnocchi and it was a perfect New York night. What I got out of our conversation was an emphasis not on the process or work-time of art-making, but on the seriousness and authenticity with which one approaches his or her work.
So that was another way to think about it.
To be continued...