Archive for August, 2012

Caution MAY Produce Misery

August 21, 2012

I just ran across this old drawing from 1995.  It serves to inspire this blog post.

Sometimes it’s good to be careful, even important.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure , as they say.  Preventive maintenance can work wonders.  Yet, this isn’t always strictly related to caution.

One needs to try to see the whole picture.  It’s often important to be aware and even to beware.

Yet, as artists, most of us regularly throw caution to the winds!  In our work, we can afford to be reckless.  It’s usually the wiser path.  If we’re too timid and reserved, it can lead to weak work, even mediocrity.

If you don’t take chances, you won’t find them.  They won’t find you.

Sometimes, it pours out all at once, fully formed.  You go fishing and catch a strong image.  You might catch a whole line full of images.  Poetry, that’s the ticket.  We yearn for magic, for love and for dreams made alive.  Sometimes, you just hook a boot instead of a fish.  Yet it might be a very interesting boot.  It’s best to take notice of this.  The “one that got away’ can be an old boot or a piece of driftwood.

One can go back into a painting and erase or destroy parts of it.  One masters art while not being “lorded over by it.”  I take full responsibility for all my pictures, unless they’re collaborations.  These become our pictures, not “mine.”

It’s similar in the other arts as well.  One needs to push the envelope, to embrace risk, to be brave and even fearless.  Abandon can be constructive.

The great war photographer Robert Capa said “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”  I transpose this to the other arts as well.  You need to be in there, in the thick of it.  It can feel like you’re really in danger, at times.

The artists move in: vulnerable, passionate, determined.

We enter our work.  Sometimes it feels like a danger zone or a “no man’s land.”  One can create work that exhilarates or thrills you.  You can even end up scaring yourself!

Then too, our “leaders” are often too cautious, too timid.  Erring on the side of caution, they get little done.  The stakes are high.  Yet some gambles are worth taking a chance on.

The art world and the political world both seem a bit sick, distorted, unfair and maybe even schizophrenic.  There’s an art in taking chances, in betting on yourself (or on some “pervasive human decency” or on a better, kinder future).

Finding  the similarities and differences between art and life can lead to discoveries.  The processes can inform each other.

Properly weighed,  plunging in and taking risks can lead to good things.  On the other hand, caution may produce misery.

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