So long ago, it seems like a lifetime ago, I knew who I wanted to be as an artist. I knew what inspired me and I knew what didn't. Life, as it happens to us all, came thundering in and I forgot why I wanted to be an artist. No, really. I forgot. I've been chasing a falsity. I've made a lot of work, some of it is okay, some of it is the real deal, most of it is a scramble to fit some kind of unknown mold.
But there is a special place in heaven for artists. There is. It has to be true. And now and then the heavens open up and reach down to help out us mere mortal bodies and our tired out minds. It used to happen to me all the time. I lost my way. Things have been very dark for a long long time. I wanted to remember my fire. Where did I leave it?
The spark found me almost as soon as I realized I'd lost it. It was right where I had left it so long ago in our upstairs apartment in our beloved Saint John. The city by the sea. The cloudy, moody city. It's now in my blood. A part of myself. I grew as an artist there. The things I put to canvas or whatever substrate I could find were the real me coming through. I found that spark again just the other day. I fell back to the love I had found. I didn't have to physically return to Saint John, I just went back there in my heart. My mind. I remembered what gave me insight. I remembered that feeling.
It happened like this:
It was a dull day, like so many others. I switched on Netflix and decided to watch It Might Get Loud which is a documentary about Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge (from U2). It was about their artistic process (or lack thereof). It was a beautiful thing to behold. I am a closet musician. I have a piano, a kick-ass Takamine acoustic/electric guitar and a little Danelectro amp. I never play because I am too obsessed with painting--can't find the time. But it doesn't matter how you do it... it matters that you do it. Music. Painting... whatever. If you've got it in you you've got it in you. You've gotta get it out.
I am obviously drawn to Jack White. His style as a musician is what I look for in my style as an artist. Break the rules. Pare it down. Use what you have. Make art. Make art. Make art til you bleed. It's an itch that you'll be scratching for all eternity. I am who I am who I am. I cannot stop thinking about images. Photographs, sketches. Emotion. Desire. Love and hate. I want to make it all.
I used to be able to create these paintings that seemed like explosively emotional mayhem put to canvas. I was scolded for this once by a stained glass window artist who devoutly believed in studious craft. He said even a monkey can emote. Emotions are nothing special. I can just imagine what he is like to live with... Well, I thought about his point of view for a long time and after watching these amazing legendary musicians do what they do (make music) I knew it was all about emotion. Of course it is. How wrong could this other guy possibly be? How stupid could I be for giving his opinion a second thought? Art has to have emotion to make it come alive. Of course it does! More than that, art is about taking an emotion and running with it and turning it into something others could derive something from. Monkeys cannot do that. Monkeys cannot inspire millions of people. Jack White can. Jack White inspires me.
And then I knew, I knew I had been on the right path all along. I must use how I feel to make art. It has to come directly from that source... that spark. That thing that makes you so feel so immersed in the waters of creativity. You drive, you see a painting you want to paint. You close your eyes you see a painting you want to paint. You smile... there it is. You cry, there it is. It is there. In you. Around you. All over.
Jack gets it. I get it. I've got it. I'll flaunt it. An artist is a slave to their work. It is a labour of love. Obsessive love. I want nothing more than this. I have been painting almost nonstop for days. It has been a phenomenal experience. Wait til you see...
Here's a little White Stripes.
Dedicated to all the nemesis (in the plural) who fucked with everything I ever loved:
Jack wouldn't like you and I don't either.
In other news:
A screw on the couch is not just a screw on a couch.
I couldn't leave you wondering, could I?