Work In Progress

The Seven Stages of Grief in making a failed art project.
February 21, 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Artists, creative process
  • Shock and Denial

    In which the artist suddenly realizes that his/her piece is not coming out the way s/he intended. At first the artist may deny that it matters much. There are other paintings to be made, other directions to be pursued. Shock will protect the artist from feeling too much at first.

    • Pain and Guilt

    The shock wears off and the artist will be forced to confront the reality and pain of his/her project not coming together. Typically this is when the artist turns to other substances or activities to numb this pain. Drugs, sex and alcohol are frequently abused.

    The artist also experiences immense guilt. Perhaps s/he should have researched the project more. Maybe s/he isn’t devoting as much time to the work as s/he should.

    • Anger and Bargaining

    The artist at this point will try to bargain with the work. Thoughts such as “if I just don’t sleep for the next week maybe it’ll work” or “If I just keep going it will totally work out in the end” or “All I need is another $100 in supplies and the work will come back to me.”

    Once it becomes clear that the bargaining will not work, the artist will turn to anger. The artists’ general worldview towards art, art criticism and the gallery system grows increasingly dim.

    • Depression Reflection, Loneliness

    It is at this time that the artist sadly reflects on everything that went wrong with the work. During this time, the artists friends and family will offer well-meaning but useless advice that the artist should “get back on track” or “maybe its time to become an accountant”.

    • The upward turn

    Things begin to look better. The artist might do things like, organize his or her studio. Read art theory books again. The artist is not making work but acknowledging that art-making was once an important part of his/her life.

    • Reconstruction and Working through

    The artist starts to work out how his/her work will continue without the failed project. Perhaps the glimmer of a new work is working around the corners of the brain. It is at this point that the artist may store or throw-out the remnants of the failed project.

    • Acceptance.

    The artist has accepted that the project is not going to work out. Furthermore the artist is ready to make new work with the wisdom gained from the previous project.


    How I Waste My Time
    June 8, 2009, 2:34 am
    Filed under: creative process, routines

    I am firm believer in time wasting as a creative booster. Making art takes time to muddle. Often our best ideas seem to spring forth when doing nothing in particular such as showering, waiting for the train, noodling on the internets when you should be writing for that new grant already. Once inspiration hits then there is never enough time of course. One could argue that it was because you wasted all that time before but I believe this is just the nature of things and I try to embrace it. I find it easier to make focused decisions on tight deadlines and mild exhaustion anyways. It’s a delicate balance.

    In an effort to see where my wasted time goes I have compiled this likely incomplete list of empty activities I do to waste time (ie free up my brain):

    1. Read blog comments. Oh man this is totally a ridiculous thing to do. It’s a terrible, terrible habit that no one should ever pick up.

    2. I love infomercials and have been known to watch QVC for extended periods of time. To be honest I find the language they use interesting in that it is strangely compelling yet containing no actual information.

    3. Window-shopping. I love the mall. I find its sanitized environment and repetition to be strangely soothing. I very rarely buy as I find everything to be kind of hideous and poorly made but I like seeing it all laid out.

    4. Read catalogues. Any catalogue. I have a window treatments catalogue on my desk right now. I am not remotely interested in window treatments but I will flip though it before recycling it.

    5. Doing other crafty projects. Sometimes working on other silly creative things helps fuel the Art (with a capital A)

    6. Celebrity gossip. I think my interest is reasonable. I also believe in participating in the culture. And if America is burning with interest in Brad/Angelina/Jen (although to be honest that whole debacle is really getting tedious already. Find some other non-existent love triangle already paparazzi!) I feel it is as important to know as Obama’s new justice pick.

    7. Terrible television. Watching Mad Men is a great way to spend your time. Watching marathons of the Its Me or The Dog is not.

    Reading Assignment!
    May 13, 2009, 12:57 am
    Filed under: creative process, review

    Three essays that I read at least once a year:

    The SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto by Valerie Solanas: Oh come on its sort of so crazy its true. Or so crazy it’s kind of really funny.

    Why Nerds are Unpopular by Paul Graham: Uh pretty much sums up my life, philosophy and general discontent with Education. I would re-type this essay and call it my own–that is how much I suspect Mr. Graham has plagiarized my secret thoughts. (Note that both Solanas and Graham would be in strange agreement re: the artificial boundaries of child/teen/adult hood)

    How to be Creative by Hugh McLeod: I read this when I am know I am starting to make too many excuses. Particularly excuses to spend too much money on art supplies. Although I think I really could use a power drill.

    Opening Up
    March 18, 2009, 1:09 am
    Filed under: Artists, creative process

    So while this blog is called Work in Progress and I do try to write about that concept, and the art process, I don’t often reveal my own nitty gritty feelings(!). As a super special treat I present to you some of my true life work in progress thoughts/excerpts from other more private journal entries. I deliberately messed up the time frame in these because I am that paranoid, but the overall theme of anxiety and self-loathing remains classic and timeless.

    A Sampling:

    Am I internalizing my oppression by feeling obligated to stick with a post-modern/conceptual art minimalism? I am so confused!!! I’m serious. I am totally confused.

    I am currently terrified of my studio. It’s very hard for me to want to do work. I keep blaming this on the fact that I don’t have embroidery software. Although I could suck it up and plot it out on graph paper or even figure something clever out in Illustrator.

    Snnrrg. In my anxiety I have eaten far too many cadbury mini eggs. Now I have a stomachache that reminds me of my childhood. My anxiety stems from my creative projects…

    The past week was spent hunched over my work table mostly on the computer finalizing digital images, on the interwebs trolling for quotes for the stuff I need made. Will this ever be over with? Its so boring to contact a million people over prices.

    So I just got kicked in my art ballz again. I am trying to just allow myself wallow and feel all depleted and imagine how terrible my committee would feel if I suddenly got brain cancer and all.

    The problem is that this project requires lots of computer time. And I am realizing the computer fucks me up. Mainly because of the dreaded internet. Oh my god its downright embarrassing how much time has been squandered reading tales of the service industry. In a way its like a drug addiction. I am evasive, moody, and lying about how much I spend online.

    In the meantime I am learning a lot more about coffee…

    In many ways approval does not really help me. But I hate feeling like a huge failure too. If I have a really shitty crit it can wreak havoc on my productivity for weeks. At this point I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself and just be a general pain in the ass artiste. Hopefully tomorrow I will be back in the swing of things. But tonight Izzie Stevens of Grey’s Anatomy is my pity party muse. Sadly I do not have her unexpected 8 million dollar inheritance check to keep me company. But I am very good and flopping about, eating a lot of butter and staring sadly into space.

    This is not good and now I am behind and feeling INSANE.

    I ran into a snag in my project that freaked me out enough to immediately strap on a sports bra, lace up some sneakers and go for a really inadvised run. I have not seriously worked out since August, and I have not gone on a run in the outdoors since high school…

    …horrific anxiety leading one to eat spoonfuls of sour cream out of the carton.

    Thank the good lord above Ugly Betty is not a re-run or clip show tonight.

    Its fantastic out and I feel like a totally new person. Hell I even feel better about my artwork.

    ARRRRG this week has NOT been awesome.

    I can tell that they used the wrong weight. They are using LIGHT ALTERNATIVE when I told them to use ALTERNATIVE. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
    Seriously I am flipping out. I actually am wondering if I should let myself cry over this.

    I feel like this whole process has been nothing but lesson in murphey’s law…I just feel like everyday I wake up and there is something wrong I have to fix or cannot be fixed and I have to let it go.

    I feel burned out, exhausted out of ideas and depressed. And addicted to the internets.

    I am cranky. I should be doing work. But instead I am lounging about depressed, uninspired, reading Daniel Clowes comics.

    My projects are all in a dismal state of “in progress” which can also mean “you suck slacker”. I must pull myself together and finish something.

    The good news is, I am enjoying the direction my artwork is going.

    I thought I would have the time to think and really work on projects. But instead I feel so crazy busy and unthinking.

    I am in my studio. I hate coming into my studio after a long absence. It fills me with total dread and hopelessness.

    Week of hell. Eating comfort foods. Can of peas, quarter stick of butter lots of salt. But now I want chocolate. Broke into the Nestle tollhouse chips. Tempted to make cookie dough just for depressing and decadant consumption at 1am. Must resist and take shower and sleep. But raw cookie dough! waah!

    where ideas come from
    March 17, 2008, 12:47 am
    Filed under: creative process

    While breaking down boxes to put out to recycle, I suddenly wondered if this is why I used large boxes for my last project. My SO and I used to live in a town with lousy recycling so we would let boxes just pile up all over the apartment until we had the chance to drop them off at a recycling center. Cut to a couple years later I willingly populate the entire apartment with over-sized boxes (2’x3′, 3’x’3′ etc) for an installation. Hmmmm. Subconscious you are doing it again!!

    My brother working on my installation
    May 6, 2007, 11:41 pm
    Filed under: creative process