Friday, November 17, 2023

Make a new side

I have been awake for hours in the dark of the early morning. When the world is quiet, I get my best thinking done. My ribs are sore from coughing. Just as I had finally rebuilt my stamina and health from having covid in the late summer, I caught another virus last week. 

I have been working hard, and now I have a few days to rest and regroup. Perhaps even to think about my art. 

In a chat with one of my dear friends, who is also a painter, I wrote

"I am pretty down on art. Since the height of the pandemic, my thoughts on art haven't been the same. I really need to have a big think about this. This is a discussion that I really need to have and figure out.

I feel more removed from the making of my art, the importance of my art, the selling of my art, or even the sharing of my art than ever before. I think this is okay - I think this means there is a big restructuring going on.

You know that whole "not going back to normal" thing - well, I can't make art the way I did, or why I did. But I also can't figure out the new way either.

I do know how important art is for my health, well-being, and my sense of self.  And I do miss my regular studio practise. I am working on it... 
I have got to keep talking about this until I understand it and come out the other side or make a new side..."

I am not alone in these feelings. That is why I am sharing them here with you, dear reader. If you show up here and actually read my words or look at my work - clicking away from my social media to come to this old clunky blog that is now 16 years old, then you are a dear friend too, and you deserve to know my thoughts. I feel I can trust you with them. 

At this time of year, I should be painting small affordable works, getting more affordable prints made to sell, or promoting the fact that my studio is going to be open during the first two Sundays in December (it is - but more on that next time). 

The way artists work today is so different. It seems we are adrift in a sea of products and a tidal wave of fellow artists, and many of us are doing all the things that we didn't want to do when we started out. That is if we are still "lucky enough" to be doing this work at all. 

Lloyd Dobler springs to mind: “I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed.”

In these capitalist conditions, everything starts to look the same - homogenised. I don't want to add to this glut, yet I also feel disappointed when my work fails to find its audience. I am caught in a web of my own design (I didn't design it, but who wants to mention capitalism twice in one paragraph). So the complicated feelings and strain of creating new work continue and I feel like I am sitting at the dinner table being grilled by Diane's father, "So what are your plans for the future?" 

Perhaps I should have pursued kickboxing...


  1. Thanks for saying this, it totally lands with me. We need to keep shining the light on the all pervasive effects of capitalism, and we disentangle our work from the mediated spaces and the market...HUGE questions, often setting up huge visceral responses in our nervous systems! Thank you for sharing some of the subtlety of your enquiry. I really appreciate it, and I'm sure other folk do too.

    1. Hi Tracy - Thank you for reading and leaving me a comment. I am glad it lands - well not glad but it does give me comfort that I am not alone in thinking or feeling this way. I really like the way you have brought up disentangling our work from the mediated spaces!! That's it! And finding "our" spaces again with our true peers and for the true meaning of it again. Thank you - I have been getting a lot of feedback on this post and it has already got me identifying some patterns and themes especially in the types of responses and who is making them. All very illuminating - thanks again - take care. I appreciate you.