I don’t know if it’s really all that good. Yesterday I was discouraged. There’s no sign of making money or being able to support myself on art. My latest piece also seems to be getting a cool reception. But then, even if I don’t make any money and have to go back to working for someone else eventually, it looks like unless something bad happens to me I’ll be able to last out the year financially. I was walking home today and realized that if I can maintain my level of productivity for the rest of the year, I’ll produce something like 18 more serious pieces. To be safe, let’s say 12-15 pieces. It will be the most worthwhile thing I’ve done in my adult life. Despite people not quite getting my last two pieces – which is really a GOOD sign – I think they were two of my best, and both broke new ground for me.
In the first half of the month (I try to finish one piece every 2 weeks) I finished my “Human Fly”.
There are a lot of things I really like about this piece, even if it hasn’t captured the imaginations of very many other people. Today I was noticing the wings, and how the reflection on the black of the closer wing makes it seem hard. I think I’m the first person to give a Human Fly wings. It’s my own creature design. The whole tableaux comes from my imagination, and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that without me, this image wouldn’t exist. It’s unpopularity may have to do with its not following expected conventions, and combining normally disparate things such as sci-fi, Impressionism, humor and horror. Impressionists don’t paint human flies barfing on their lunches; human flies don’t eat pizza; and what’s up with the macaroni? I’m also pleased with the cave-like interior space that envelopes the viewer and puts him or her in a completely artificial world of my contriving. There are also a lot of cool painterly details, such as the reflections on the lower body. Gotta’ keep reminding myself to see it with my eyes, and not via the rejection from others, such as Deviantart digtial art groups. What others see as its failures, such as not being completely photo-realistic or faithful to the monsters in the movies are actually its successes. I intend for my work to be lingered over. If you get it in a few seconds, then it’s superficial, but if people don’t get it in a few seconds they just pass it over.
In the second half of the month I finished the “Bare Knuckle Brawl”.
This one is even less liked than the Human Fly. A few people really like it, but most seem to want to push it away. Well, that’s based on the few likes it got here, on Facebook, on Google Plus, and Deviantart. The rejections from groups I submitted it to on Deviantart pissed me off art first. It was the wording about not being up to their standards of quality. The next day I realized that was a really good thing. Because I work digitally and try to make fine art, I have to compete not only with fine artists, but with all the Photoshop illustrators who make slick-ass canned images of whopping clichés. Those groups want unicorns, angels, trolls, and boobs. Being rejected by them is like being a contemporary composer, who makes rock music, and gets rejected from Top 40 radio. It’s a good sign.
Whatever anyone else thinks, this piece rocks. The Hopper-esque geometries (such on the big boy’s shirt), the hands on the fence, the fence itself (which seems to be being pulled apart by the spectators), the quality of being an oil painting all satisfy. If the violence makes people uncomfortable I’m happy because that means I managed to infuse a real sense of violence and reality into the image.
I’m against signature styles in general, but I recognize that I have to have a certain amount of cohesive material in order to get any kind of recognition, which I need if I want to be able to continue making art beyond this year. If I’m going to have anything like a singular style, I want it to have it all: interesting subject matter; a full range of color; elaborate compositions; painterly surfaces; a plausibility for a level of abstraction and distortion; and various visual devices that reference art history, popular culture, daily life, transcendent states, the subconscious, and the unbridled imagination. OK, that’s a long list, but I think the Human Fly hits most of those.
Let me take this further and get a bit more philosophical about it. I want to make meaningful, imaginative, rich imagery that is rendered beautifully and interestingly. I want it to reflect and explore reality, interior spaces, and spaces beyond consensual reality. This is NOT what contemporary art, or at least the big money popular stuff, tries to do. In fact it’s probably considered naïve and reactionary. But to me that’s lame. I think about musical analogies, and I already mentioned the contemporary composer who decides to make rock music, or let’s just say songs. Let’s say he knows conceptual music, knows why rock is hackneyed, but thinks that making a new and interesting song is a very real and central kind of music making. It’s also a big challenge, because then you have to compete with all the popular stuff that is blissfully unaware of contemporary music.
Contemporary art is anything except what I am doing. I would never have been able to do this kind of work in grad school. But it’s the same thing as not being allowed to make a song. I’ve come to think that exploring imagery is more interesting to me, and seems much more rich with possibilities, than does doing anything else besides what art essentially is.
In short, these two works are a good indication of where I want to take my art. I think I’m going to steer away from abstraction/non-representational art, because I find imagery more compelling and challenging. And I’m going to get away from collage work. If you look at even just these two pieces, there’s enough space between them to come up with dozens of images I’d love to see. And I think as I do more of them people will start to get them, and what they are about.
I can’t imagine what images I’ll produce in the next 9 months. I wrote down more than a dozen ideas before I even started the year of art, but I mostly do new ideas first and haven’t touched those. Whatever anyone else thinks, or whether or not I can sell my work or get any recognition, I really want to see the images that are on their way in the coming months. If they are as good to me as the ones I made this month, I’ll be content.
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