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By: Anthony Boswell
My life and work as an artist
# 24 [19 September 2011]
Time at the moment has been taken up by the process my mind goes through in recognising and reacting to situations I come across or look for. I was watching a concert by Pink Floyd, recorded in 1972, in a deserted amphitheatre in Pompeii. There were moments of such personal fulfillment that I have been forced to re-think my position with my work. Whether or not anyone else is interested in the music is by the by, I am talking from a personal viewpoint. One movement consists of the camera moving on rails behind the speakers, there are gaps that show the band members, or the landscape, or the empty theatre, or the instruments and crew, all momentary and slow, with the slow rhythm interspersed by Gilmour's intense bursts of heavy guitar. All so simple yet containing something that worked so perfect with my mindset it was totally captivating. I watched it over, and I have tried to understand since what in the essence of this moment reacts with me, what drives my inner self to be so moved by it? It is important to me because I am always at struggles with myself to dig out those places and situations that come together 'in the right way'. Maybe it is what makes all artists know when a drawing as failed, that the subject is wrong, that we become in a block, because we can't find things that fit in the right way.
I know when I get edgy but uncomfortable with it, not edgy because there is a sudden need to work. Its when tiredness of mind moves in because the hand won't work the pen, the doubt is there. And sometimes we see things that are so deep in there moving the emotions, that I want to include it so much in the work, I become afraid because it is so different to what I'm doing. Its like life drawing Elena Thomas was talking about on my blog comments, nothing to do with my work, but you see the model there, she has presence, and you see a master like Egon Scheile with such perfect a pencil line you just think 'Shit, that is so damn perfect'.
Things that get to he heart of myself, they either give me the desire to work with intensity, or give in to sitting there and aching with impossibility.
# 23 [18 September 2011]
Recently, the artist Susan Francis has been posting on Twitter images that reflect things around the studio. I have found their emotional weight most arresting. It makes me aware of how easy it is to forget that the simplest of things are where the deepest levels of possibilities for artwork lie, and can be so quickly overlooked. When I am thinking about a new piece of work, be it a drawing in the sketch books, or for something more involved, I create this framework around me that requires everything to be just so; the feeling of the place to omit the right intensity of feeling, the placement of objects to suit the frame, what can and can't be left out, the light, the shadow, a whole list of invisible criteria that builds up this intensity for work to be right. It tells me that all that is captured in my work consists of these everyday things, yet in their simplicity lies such complexity.
This complexity in the simple, where does it originate? Is it from the rules and constraints I place upon myself/them, or is it inherent in the make-up of the metaphysical properties of the object/room? What happens for the connection to be made between myself and the things around me? It is not always familiarity, because I can walk into a room I know nothing about, yet pick up on the layers of occurrence and moment. This is how it is with the images of Susan's, the knowing of the unknowing. Sometimes it is possible to give out of yourself the desire to feel and receive some kind of amplified feedback of understanding of unknown origin. What is felt does not always need the physical presence of being there. Its what you get in a great film, or image, and I frustrate myself to distraction on never feeling I have achieved in my work what is happening inside, that hope that just once I can get it, capture it, and I guess this is what keeps me looking and working.
I get angry with myself because I often wonder if things need to be so complicated; just see it, get it down, in an instant. But no, I have to stand there, wander around and wait. Perhaps it is the waiting that's hard? Its like getting to know someone, but that does not explain how sometimes you recognise something instantly. Trying to get the work in a place where people can nderstand something so individually unique is so damn tough. But maybe depsite it all, it would'nt do to get to comfortable.
# 22 [10 September 2011]
I have been thinking specifically about doorways, as I work with the project set by the new group 'The Fabelists'. It is making me think more deeply about the content of doorways, the entering and leaving. The tension within these possibilities exist, manifest themselves in the stillness and quiet as I sit and watch them, the doors and their opening and just visible the 'other side'. These are the experiences that exist by feeling the depth of time and emotion in the flatness of the 'now'. It is in feeling this that I am witness to the melancholy of watching. The 'other side' is somewhere that lies on the back edge of the present and mystery of that which exists when I am turned away, or face it full-on.
# 21 [8 September 2011]
I don't know why I find myself feeling guilty about sitting, standing, wandering about the house when it is actually in these acts that things become clear to me, or make me question, make me look harder. It is in the looking and listening that makes it possible to be more receptive to the environment and self, so I won't be guilty about these still times. What it is that feeds the guilt is the thoughts of what I really should be doing, that is being tied to my desk physically making artwork, that way justifying my time at home. So I'm not going to think that anymore, my work happens all of the time.
I was thinking about Becky Hunter's little workspace in her last blog entry. My work room to is small, deep coloured to help me rest, the usual necessities and personal items placed here and there. All of these thoughts I collect, during the time moving about, all get taken back at some point into this space, there they must get squeezed into it as they all come out of my head into an image on the wall (in my minds eye really), onto the paper or canvas, or the pc screen. I think that's why I feel I would want someone who lives in this house after us to be the sort of people who appreciate the history left in the fabric of the rooms. And it is all going from one instant to the next, with compulsion, with the unstoppable force of the deepest desire to do what you want to do; serve the artist. That is why all of this movement/thought/image collecting that has to be let out is compelling, because it is an habitual way of life. I have so many times got tired of being the artist, of serving the art, but I like the idea of desire, and desire comes in abundance, with its guilty pleasures and ability to mirror the self, and so I carry on working.
And so all this confirms again that I will be sensible, but never guilty of doing what I need to do, in working as an artist.
# 20 [7 September 2011]
I was thinking a lot today about familiarity and attachment. It started out over a pair of my old shoes (see blog post at www.anthonyboswell.blogspot.com).
I sit at my studio desk, small and intimate as it is, where I am now, or walk the house, maybe sit or stand somewhere, and this familiarity runs so deep. It is so deep, in fact, it is a part of my make up, I feel part of the ambiance that hovers everywhere. It is comforting, but there is always a hint of the melancholic worry over 'time'. I feel I am stepping into a Rothko, or in a film where characters are absorbed, for a moment, into the place they are at. While I sit and write here, it is getting dusk outside, the house is lit by tablelamp in some places, dark in others, I understand all the moods present throughout, but there comes with it the hint of mystery.
Our home is an old friend, you don't forget old friends, and they always have room to discover more. When we eventually move, I like to think that all this familiarity will come with us, leave behind an empty shell so that all the life we have given it won't be disturbed.
# 19 [6 September 2011]
So much has gone on in my approach to my practice the last few months. I am more refreshed of mind now too.
It is the simple things that often make a difference to me feeling more comfort with my work, things that allow me to trust my judgements more, that get rid of those nagging little doubts, and guilts, about my sincerity with what I'm doing. I have this obsession with feeling 'right' about things; about what I'm feeling with the right subject, about the possible answers, about the standard of work itself. Of course, all this does get in the way, but is necessary. Take my drawings, now they had developed into technically confident works that held enough strength of feeling to make them work for me. But you see, those nagging doubts never went away, that they were needing an accompaniment, they were a means to an end. In fact, they were a way in to what was underlying my interests. They were born of something else that led to them showing me, from my own perspective and that of others, the way forward. They were also so demanding, it was impossible to work directly, but only from my photographing the subject, and this I was ultimately uncomfortable with.
Now I have been able to take a confident step back with the drawings, even though they are rough and immediate, they have created the possibility to get down what captures my attention, (now that I know more of what it is that gets it), there and then. Its essence is right there in my sketchbook, I can then develop it.
I just know in the end when all is tied nicely together, this makes the emotional effort with my work that little more satisfying.
# 18 [5 September 2011]
Essay by Becky Hunter on my work. Interesting perspective that is extremely useful even for myself. Just scroll her site to find.
# 17 [5 September 2011]
Well I have taken the decision to return to a-n and the blogs, after now realising more people than I knew read them. Thankyou. It has, however, not diminished the struggles I have with it regarding what to say, what to leave out, so as not to dilute the work.
It has been a while, and it has been a time of reflection regarding my work. So much has happened in my mind that the old ways of my practice have emerged, through that natural progression that takes the best of what was being done and leaves behind the parts that were unimportant, into something different. The drawings which you would have been familiar are now part of something new. In fact, there had always been a nagging feeling that they were missing some content, that something needed to be added.
My work now uses drawing in its primary function, for recording the sketch, which I still regard as works in themselves. To this I have now taken up more painting and most importantly film. This latter part of my practice was born out of necessity and by overcoming my doubts over my ability with it. I have no concerns over its immediacy and raw appearance. You can find more film on my website. Everything that I sought within my subject has continued but with more intensity and personal affect. For those interested, Becky Hunter (beckyhunter.co.uk) as written an insightful short essay on my work.
I am a person who tells things as they are, with that I hope the blog continues to be of interest.
# 16 [29 March 2011]
The rain had came down then released fine, sunny weather for the next couple of days. I had been involved in the deep levels of enquiry that the work was expecting, I had been burning in the garden and the rich, musty smell of smoke still lingered on my hands as I sat in my room looking at my drawings. It felt the right thing to do, to step outside, there and then, and for the first time view the idea of my work from the presence of the outside world. The sound of the many Ravens that seemed to be around this year took me away from the sound of the traffic and passers-by, seeing my room from outside, the large trees at the end of the garden rising up at the back of the house. It had me in its sights; the breaking away from the leaded detail to the sketchbook and to the paint and canvas. I knew that the drawings, as they were, could not carry on my practice forever, there would be the need to bring in something else eventually.
But I still remain the same, working outside as I sometimes will now finds me remaining in that subterranean world of the self where I search my own life for those moments that are found to be universal and everyday, that depth within the shallows. I have seen many times the rain falling on the windowpanes, reflecting inside those little droplets the fish-eyed outdoor world. The idea of being an artist is the idea of having acceptance of ones life, worlds, having the ability to face it and change it through the dream of imagery.
I see a whole new future in a whole new past.
I have taken to keeping private journals. I have tried for a long time to share and reveal outwardly. Not through selfishness are my actions taken. I hope that one day these journals will be of interest, who knows. I am who I am, old fashioned for the written, private word, the keeping of meaning in art for the works themselves to explain. I remain a quiet artist, hoping that, amongst the rich and diverse world of all of you out there looking for yourselves, I may too get that opportunity.
I find I just need to be quiet and still within my work, to not keep finding it hard to share words in this online world. I am a thinker, comfortable in the layers of the particular artistic coats I wear. Hoping for understanding. So for the reason of solitude and my own particular failings I will be ending my blogs, but will continue to follow all of you as you are able to freely share your own worlds and wishing you all good fortune on the searches you undertake.
# 15 [17 February 2011]
I am the sort of person who will always lend a listening hear to anyone who needs help and are serious about their effort. Yet I may be seen as a selfish person; I believe artists need to be selfish. This is said as a matter of my life as a person and an artist (one and the same, no separateness) needing to be secret, not letting out everything that goes on in my mind. I can't help it, its me, who I am, needing the mysteries of life to work themselves out in my work as I see fit; not as commercial pressure dictates, or galleries might dictate, or even as other artists may seem fit. Non of this is said in anger, but from the viewpoint that my work, myself, needs to have that wholeness that comes from the secrets it holds within itself. If this is not kept, if all I see is spoken out loud, then all depth is reduced to shallowness, leaving nothing else for anyone to look for. It is wholly necessary to retain the mysteries of life. Art is about the search for depth, and depth leads to questioning which leads to discoveries about oneself. One has to seek out artists who see the same, feel the same, go as deep as oneself. They don't come around very often.
In saying this, I suppose I don't go along with general theory, and probably don't make myself very popular. I am old school, don't embrace new openness like today's technology embraces it, (not that I don't see how others make use of it). I am an artist who still believes in books, hand written journals, art being taught from the gut, the importance of silence. The deeper ones secrets and mysteries go, the deeper ones art.
I may or may never get an opportunity, who knows who is looking. But it does not matter to me anymore because the reason for working is my very own, it is about the 'work', the art world is getting too stuffy, to chatty, to open, to narrow for the sake of making money from ones art for the sake of losing the very meaning of it. An artist needs a reason to work, my reason is about living, about getting as close as possible to getting it down on paper as I can. I'm here to listen, but pulling back, seeking that deeper level with myself, my work, what I think I'm about. I just can't keep talking.
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