The creative geniuses of art and science work obsessively. They do not lounge under apple trees waiting for fruit to fall or lightning to strike. “When inspiration does not come to me,” Freud once said, “I go halfway to meet it.” Bach wrote a cantata every week, even when he was sick or exhausted. Though most composers would kill to have written even one of his best pieces, some were little more than wallpaper music. Eliot’s numerous drafts of “The Waste Land” constitute what one scholar called “a jumble of good and bad passages [that he turned] into a poem.” In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Simonton found that the most respected produced not only more great works, but also more “bad” ones. They produced. Period.
Sharon Begley, “The Puzzle of Genius,” Newsweek, June 27, 1993
Today has been a rewarding Saturday. As I near the end of it, I recall that I made a sketch from a large watercolor I did a few years ago of a 1902 cabin in rural Arkansas. I used the watercolor as a model for a 5 x 7″ drawing. Then tonight, I decided to knock out a 5 x 7″ watercolor sketch of the same composition. I’m not finished with the watercolor, but I’m getting sleepy and will shelve it until a later time.
The piece I posted above is from an article that I have never been able to forget. I took it out today and re-read it, encouraging myself to make more art in this New Year, and not worry about whether or not the works is good or not, frameable or not, marketable or not. I love the observation that creators just create, period. They create a large body of good work and bad work. Ralph Waldo Emerson, discussing the writing experience, said that a pump brings up muddy water before it gets to the clean water, and that a writer has to write through the mud before reaching clarity. I think the same can be said for making art. Perhaps we start out cold and clumsy, but we’ll warm up to the occasion, provided we care enough to stay with it.
Thanks always for reading, and Happy New Year.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.