Sunday, September 24, 2006

I knew that!

". . . And truthfully, what could be more important for any of us - art makers or otherwise - than to make work that matters to us, work so important that we give up other things in our lives to do it?"

This sentence is on page one of "The View From the Studio Door" by Ted Orland. Didn't I know that? Why do I have to re-learn these things? What a timely reminder. I have been trying to work on the rock book, but there is no joy for me in this series of books, with the exception of the original dinosaur.

This is the seventh event, on page 14 of Seven Extinction Events.

Normally I love making art. It comes out of my dreams and personal mythology. It allows me to be connected with my spiritual life. When I'm working I forget time and feel totally involved with the object. This is not happening with these books.

I like to start with the pages. Sometimes I am illustrating a dream, a myth I made up or some random sentence from a book that has a personal significance to me. As I work, I know what to do next because there is a story in my head. If I'm on Mars, I need a desert landscape and some Egyptian ruins. If I am walking to a foreign city, I might be lost and need stars to guide me. As I work on the pages, I begin to get an idea for the cover. In this case, I was thinking "rock book, volcano book, fern book" to complete the landscape for the dinosaur book. I knew there wasn't any content, but I didn't think ahead to the consequences. (I'm not doing "show the plants of the late Cretaceous." That is content, but it has no pull for me. I want to make art for emotional and spiritual satisfaction, not for the visual joke.)

I need to either find some content that I can believe in for these books, or set the project aside. It's hard to think about this. I have spent a lot of time on it. Does it make sense to go on and finish enough books to show them together in some way? Or should I cut my losses now and start something I care about on an emotional level? Maybe the question comes down to "do I want to please my audience, or do I want to please myself." I may be able to get these books in shows or published somewhere, but will I be proud of them?

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