Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Art Blog: Art by CHANCE

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."
John Cage

As stated in my sidebar, my mission here is to speak on the emotional and psychological issues of being an artist. This is what I know best. At least, I want to admit that being an artist isn’t all lollipops and rainbows (Is it ever? LOL). I guess I get jealous sometimes hearing artists’ cheerful pronouncements of their newest work or art venue offerings. Sometimes I just want to glare at the computer screen and tell them to go suck an egg! I think I must take all this art stuff far too seriously. I need to lighten up.

I have been working in my studio for the past few days and I have accomplished NOTHING. It has been brutal. I am miserable. I have painted and then painted over what I painted. I have drawn and scribbled over what I have drawn. I have made huge messes in my studio and every room of my house. I even have canvases strewn all over my living room couch cushions.

It is all shit.

This is my own fault. Between trying to paint in ways I am not meant to paint, constant brain chatter, and spewing negative energy all over the place, it isn’t surprising I am getting nowhere fast. Many of you will understand what I mean. Artists need to go through passages like this to get to the good stuff.

In my early twenties, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with John Cage. He was visiting the Detroit area and one of my professors invited him over to our tiny, academic, art studio. In retrospect, I can’t believe he came. In his honor, we prepared a huge, collaborative portrait and hung it outside the studio door. As he walked toward the studio, he smiled broadly, introduced himself to us, and sat to chat. He spoke of his music and life as a composer. He explained his work with I Ching and CHANCE music. At that time, I didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about despite his attempts to clarify his philosophies. (Youth is wasted on the young. - George Bernard Shaw)

Today I was thinking about dear Mr. Cage. The reason he was on my mind is because I realized I am trying to force the art out of me. I am thinking and planning too much. I still don’t thoroughly understand John Cage’s methods. However, I do relate to the underlying premise. Don’t worry, I am not going to run out and buy a copy of the I Ching! I just need to remember to let it happen. It is what it is. I need to let my art make itself. At least for now, I need to make art by CHANCE.

"I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I needed it"
John Cage
Thank you Mr. Cage.


Anonymous said...

First-Are you sure it is shit?
the struggle is what gets you to the get-so to speak-but you know that.

and by the way I use everything I can get-I Ching, Runes, Animal Cards,and Indian Cards etc.- just to point the way.

and I feel your is not easy -this journey

Sheree Rensel said...

Oh you are very perceptive. No. I am not really sure it is shit. It might be shit. I think it is shit at this moment. I know from experience it might not end up being shit after all. You know what I mean.

It just takes time and a lot of effort. The verdict will become apparent later. I am just anxious for LATER!

JafaBrit's Art said...

I know so well what you are talking about and feel the same. I am having a terrible struggle at the moment. I was trying to tell a friend and she said. Oh you said that before, get used to it, it isn't like you need to make a living. I told her that is beside the point and then decided to give up trying to explain. She doesn't do art and doesn't really get it. We go through these cycles and I suppose that is where the tortured artist comes into play. When things don't work out, or we can't do work we are tormented with a grumbling rumbling agitation and nothing appeases it until we do one thing that works out to OUR satisfaction.

Deep breath! OOOH and how cool you MET Cage, that rocks.

Sheree Rensel said...

Jaf (Corrine),
OH, How I know! The statement "it isn't like you need to make a living" disturbs me. I have planned my life so as not to add the "making a living" part to my artist equation. It is my choice. I have found through life experience this dependency does not work for me. Therefore, I live by Plan B.

However for someone to say this makes it obvious to me, they are not in tune with the real priorities of artists. At least, this is not the primary motivation for artists who I respect and admire.
Yes, it can be torment. Yes, there is agitation. I am so accustomed to these feelings. The only good thing about it all is that I am old enough and wise enough to know this too shall pass.

It has absolutely nothing to do with making a living (see quote on sidebar). It has to do with living your life with at least a modicum of comfort while knowing you are creating the absolute best life most people will never understand.

You know what I am talking about. I know you do.
"Cin Cin"
as I tip my Mich Ultra to you! L0L

john van hamersveld said...

haha.. that man cracks me up... great insight on the things that you need to do... thanks...

JafaBrit's Art said...

I hope you don't mind, but I think I HAVE to use that quote on my blog. Nobody HAS to make a living with art, that is a choice, but choosing not to doesn't make it any less valid. Yes it annoys me too.

Bill Evertson said...

Making a living at it or not, accomplishing what we intended that day or not is not what defines us as an artist. Showing up each day in the studio for another go round when everything is shit is what makes us artists. Very cool you met John Cage.

Sheree Rensel said...

Thanks so much! I am glad you stopped by! :-)
P.S. I am glad you cracked up! I love making people laugh!

Sheree Rensel said...

What is mine is yours! Take whatever you like whenever you like! :-)

Sheree Rensel said...

Bill, That is a GREAT way to put it! I never thought of it this way! You are SO RIGHT! THANK YOU!!!!

Sheree Rensel said...

P.S. Yes, it is cool I met John Cage. However, there is a tiny part of me that wishes I could go back and do it again as my present self. Oh, things would have been so different. It is a "if I knew then, what I know now" kind of thing. I have a lot of those. Oh well, such is life!

Brandon said...

I kind of split my art 2 directions. By day I do engineering graphics and by night I do digital painting. The disiplines have started to influence each other with some interesting results

gilda said...

This is so coincidental that you discuss John Cage today Sheree....yesterday at school our printmaking professor did some 'burn prints' a la what Cage did. He titled them ENINKA and they have to do with Zen and the chance encounter between the flame, the paper, and the press. I videotaped the procedure and put it on youtube.