What not working feels like.
The Mouth of Hell. From the Hours of Catherine of Cleves ca. 1440
David Hockney painted a large sign that he placed at the foot of his bed that said, “Get up and get to work” to remind him of what was most important each morning. Georgia O’Keeffe* reported that endless quotidian diversions would keep her from painting if she were not vigilant about getting to the easel.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Chuck Close said, “I am plagued with indecisions.” He spoke of setting limitations in order to be able to work. There are countless similar stories.
I know what Close means. Sometimes I have so many ideas I have difficulty choosing where to start. The crazy/busy schedule of full time teaching or, just as likely, a glass of very good bourbon and a new book on poetry (after a crazy/busy day of full time teaching) will be way more compelling than studio work.
But sooner or later I start to get very anxious if I don’t get to the workbench. I just simply have to make something. Maybe this is one of the things that separates the life-long artist from those who ultimately give it up. For them the unease of not making is tolerable or even non-existent. For the rest of us it’s a relief to finally get into the studio and work.
*O'Keeffe also said there was nothing overtly
sexual about her flower paintings.