I am always thinking.  Actually, maybe I am never thinking.  I am usually busy doing.  My thinking is often directly related to my doing.

I am one week into my residency and I have still not defined the parameters of my project, so today I enjoyed the grey skies of Amsterdam behind my own window, thinking.  It was very uncomfortable, actually. It did not have the familiar feeling of productivity, where you are rewarded at the end of your time spent with a product, a visible result.  It had the uncomfortable feeling of falling into a hole with no bottom to it, just an endless, shaky existence, with brief periods of clarity and many moments of darkness.  It felt a lot like failing.  Failing to move forward.

It seems that this is how I work as an artist.  I get lost in my head, thinking.  It seems I am forever churning, spinning, hammering away at information until it some how builds to a thought.  I then proceed to destroy, rip apart, and demolish this thought only to rebuild it again into another thought.  The process repeats itself until often I have a headache and still no concrete idea of what to produce.

This feeling of failure, of not knowing what one is doing, is a feeling that usually occurs right before the moment I have a break through.  Then the next step in my process occurs, the need to talk about it.

My brain, exhausted, pours the thought into my mouth and I then tell everyone who will listen what I am thinking about.  This is not necessarily so that I can get anyone’s opinion.  It is often just so I can hear myself say things out loud, see what they sound like.  Sort of like talking to myself, but with the bounce back effect of another.

I then eat these thoughts that bounce back, chewing on them and sometimes spitting them out again. Sometimes, if they actually taste good to me, I swallow them, digesting them, forcing them through my body where, if I am lucky, they cause a physical, emotional reaction.  If I am unlucky, I throw them back up.  I then vow to never eat thoughts like that again and the next day is spent taking smaller bites.

Today’s work never got past the thinking phase.  As result, I personally jumped into an emotional place.  I am an emotional, conceptual artist.  It seems if I can connect my head to my heart I can produce work.  If I cannot, it is just an endless cycle of regurgitation.



One comment

  1. We have a motto at VCFA, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I think you just described, beautifully, the process that many artists go through. I can certainly relate.

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