How very bloody ironic.
I can just hear it now. "Ooh isn't that so very zen." "I love those pebbles in such perfect balance."
Well this stack is the very essence of everything that isn't zen, this is it's antithesis. This is the anti-zen.
There's what I want my art to be and then there is what it is. The better I get at it the harder it becomes. I want to up my game, I want the things I make to be well, 'better', more accomplished, more *worthy*. I casserole these feelings while sat at home, creating stewed dumplings of desire, intention and enthusiam. "I'm going to try harder", "I'm going to put more energy into it", "I'm going to get better at this stuff".
And then I'm there. Standing in some place ready to begin. Now what?
My art and me have an identity crisis, neither of us know who we are. We recognise each other but we don't identify with ourselves at least not when the actual art is taking place. I am an artist when I'm not actually doing any and someone else entirely when I am. I can look through my back catalogue of creations and say "I made that" yet when I am actually trying to create something it's a maelstrom of doubt, inability and confusion. And then the chaos ends and I grab my camera and photograph whatver it is I have made.
I have a feeling that there's a lot of this about. The veneer and the chaos.
On the way to the beach I said good morning to the dog walkers and discussed the chilly July breeze and flashed smiles and greetings to everyone I passed. The cheery fellow off to do his work with his polished veneer.
By the cliffs I was alone and I scanned to the left and right for fear of being disturbed by anyone passing through. What a revealing word 'disturbed' is.
Now people are at a distance my mask is not active or available to hide behind so my reactions are true to myself once again. As I see a family clamber down the rocks I internally plead 'please don't come over here, please just go away, leave me the hell alone!"
I wander up and down the beach looking at the pebbles, 30% of my attention on the ground and 70% directed randomly to imagined threats and worries and things all around me. I would think Yoda would have a word or two to say about that.
In the midst of this I'm trying to relax and balance rocks but all I do is pace up and down hoping that my unconscious will do my frontal lobes a favour and deliver up some ideas and inspiration.
What of the other conundrum? How do I know if whatever I've made is any good? Is it good if I enjoyed it? Is it good if I struggled through the creation instead? Is it good just because I made it? How hard exactly do you have to try?
I'm starting to wonder if we have a finite amount of 'trying' energy. You might want more, you might *want* to try harder but you only have a certain amount to expend before a recharge needs to take place. My techniques have improved which allow me do more with the same effort and time. I don't think I've managed to be able to try harder one little bit.
My sculptures come out like they do and it is them that decide what they'll be. Whether they'll come easy or with a struggle, are a success or are a little bit meh.
I don't know how to do better or try harder, they happen in their own way whatever. When I look at work I admire and aspire to I think "I want to do that" but when I try I end up being me all over again, it's like talking or ranting or whinging. It's comes out like me everytime without fail.
But is this a cop out? Shouldn't I just *try* harder?
I wonder how much veneer and core there is about, how many people say "good morning" out loud and "leave me alone" on the inside.
Everyday on (two)Face(d)book I am bombarded with trite quotes and pearlised nuggets of wisdom about how I should spend the rest of my day, with such gems like:-
"Don't be afraid of opposition, remember a kite rises against not with the wind"
"We do not remember days, we remember moments"
"If you want to be trusted be honest, if you want to be honest be true, if you want to be true be yourself"
Sure there are kernels of truth in these phrases but to be brutally honest (and true to myself) everytime I read one of these quotes on FB I want to repeatedly beat myself in the face with a frozen leg of lamb until it all goes away :-)
Well so bloody what?
Life is so much more tumultuous than a photo of a rock balance or the facebook persona of someone with the 'perfect' life. When I peep at what I don't have, and stare into the face of what I should be I should remember that not everything is quite as it appears.
As someone wise once said then got quoted and shared on Facebook. Tomorrow is another day. And maybe the angst will be forgotten then. Until the next time anyway.
And yet this sculpture contains all that. It probably looks like I just grabbed a couple of pebbles, stacked them up, took a pic, wandered home. What it doesn't show is the hours of pacing, the failed sculptures that didn't make it, the scratching around for ideas, the wanting to go home, the tension, the self doubt and quite how long it took to find a selection of nice round pebbles that would actually balance together without falling over, over and over again.
So there it is again. Beneath the peaceful surface lies turmoil.
Oh how very zen...