This would be the sequel to the New Year’s resolution post a couple of weeks back, in which I vowed to part ways with years of art projects from past classes and phases, and future artworks that just are not going to happen.
I used to help people shed their clutter for a living, so how hard could it be to take my own advice? Clear the decks and clear the mind, yada yada.
But it really does feel like a bit of my soul is being destroyed when I finally get down to chucking out a drawing or a collage, or face the strong probability that I will never master weaving or silk-screening. I know something has to give or I will be Rusty in Orchestraville, that annoying kid from the ancient record of the same name we had growing up. (Rusty kept switching instruments so he never mastered any one, and got kicked out of band. Or something like that.)
The Buddhists would say that it’s important to let go of material objects and the ego embedded in them, but I also see there’s something to learn from those past studies and explorations, so I’ve come to a workable compromise.
Thanks to one of my favourite art school instructors who required we keep a well-stuffed sketchbook for our Creative Processes class, I’ve kept up the habit. It takes me about a year to fill a spiral-bound hard-cover sketchbook with my notes, clippings, found things, sketches, pattern studies and painting tests for bigger artworks. The collection of bulging books are more important to me than any particular painting or sculpture because I refer back to those ideas and bits of inspiration as I move forward.
Cutting a section out of a painting and gluing it onto a sketchbook page feels like cutting my ego down to size. I get to keep the idea without the fetishistic need to hold on to every little thing just because I made it.
Who knew letting go could feel so good?
BEFORE: Transforming plain cardstock paper into a multi-coloured burst pattern was a useful exercise but the finished project was just hanging around, taking up space.
AFTER: Cropping the piece and gluing it into the sketchbook gives it new dimension: a process to refer to in the future.