I'm dissatisfied with my work. I feel as though I'm searching for something and I just can't find it. I feel disheartened when I just don't know where else to look. I try every medium, read many books about artists, Jung, physics anything that interests me. I'm in my studio every day. Perhaps I'm trying too hard. 6am on a Sunday and it's really bothering me. I enjoy my life, I love being an artist, I love creating every day and feel privileged but I have a need to attain my, as yet, unknown goal. I think perhaps this entry is to try and define for once what it is I want to achieve.
I need to refer back to my past, my relationship to art as a child. My first memory is copying a Van Gogh on the wall in the classroom. I must have been about 9 years old, my teacher was Mrs Tregear. I have a report from that teacher that reads that I'm always drawing and painting and am very good at it. I don't remember how I felt towards this art, to me I suppose it was just another picture on the wall. Interesting how I was inspired by Van Gogh at that age and how even now I can remember the particular painting and looked it up later, 'Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saints-Maries'. My next memory is being fascinated by surrealism, Dali, I guess. I remember copying 'The Burning Giraffe' and how my mum loved that painting. It touched something in me, something familiar and yet so strange. I want this feeling again. Dali is familiar to me now but sometimes other artists touch that part of me. A part that instantly recognizes that something that is indefinable, which I now find myself needing to try and define.
Now it is not as simple as being amazed at a surreal painting, often it may be an installation or assemblage piece. Perhaps it is that it touches on childhood dreams and nightmares. It often stirs feelings in me that are very deep. I also had this feeling when visiting the Georges Pompadou Centre in Paris many years ago when I was 21. Two pieces of work in particular which were both 3D. I don't remember the artists or the title of the work but they have had a lasting impact on me. These encounters and surreal moments in my life are perhaps what I am trying to capture. It elusively resides in my past experiences. My fascination with late 19th century and early 20th century life are clearly not personal experiences though, maybe in a secondary perception kind of way. I can see early 20th century relates to the beginning of Dada and Surrealism but why Victorian. These are not new fascinations or inspirations. I recall having a dream of being a child in Victorian times when I was studying Psychotherapy, 15 years ago. My first encounter with L'Age D'Or had quite an impact in, circa 1986, when Channel 4 was showing a series of banned films. This may have began my fascination with the 1920s and my strange association with it.
Now I want to create something that has that same kind of impact on myself. Is that even possible? I want to recognize the image, have that familiarity that I cannot verbalise. Hence my studies in Jung and the Collective Unconscious. I used to read philosophy and found that to be inspiring. I have returned to reading about Dada and Surrealism but it all feels too intellectual for me. I need a dictionary by my side and my memory fails me as I forget the new words that I have learnt. Iconoclasm, existentialism, anthropocentric, nihilists, metaphysics are words I encountered whilst reading last night. Most of these words are familiar but I have no real understanding of what they mean and sometimes the words entail a considerable amount of study in themselves, existentialism for instance. I'm very interested in these subjects but they are all interruptions to my visual creations.
I am happy that I can produce a portrait but I do not consider myself a 'good' portrait artist at all. It's adequate. I could say the same for still life, landscape etc. I do think if I devoted all of my time to any of these I could become good at them but that is not really my aim, my motivation. It's not enough for some reason. To have anyone admire my work and recognize the craftsmanship is a good feeling but it just isn't what I'm trying to achieve or what satisfies me. Hence all of my experimental work which isn't really 'good' or 'great' at all. I am just always hopeful that it brings me nearer to the 'Eureka' moment. Well it's fun trying anyway. I enjoy tearing up pieces of paper and working randomly. I am even using power tools now these days. I do think I need to stop buying new mediums and books though and focus on extrapolating from my mind that which I am searching for.
I can relate to many of Man Ray's quotes:-
'I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive.'
'I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.'
'Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask 'how', while others of a more curious nature will ask 'why'. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.'
I also have a need to make my work attractive which is a contradiction to my main aim. This just adds to the complexity of my task. Mostly my experiments do not take this into account but unconsciously, I'm sure I must make some effort to make the work coherent at least but do I really need to? I wish I understood what I am trying to achieve. I understand just a little more after writing this but it is all still very elusive!