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By: Anthony Boswell
My life and work as an artist
# 14 [16 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 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.
# 13 [14 February 2011]
I feel the time is here when a pivotal change has occurred. Artists have to have a reason for working. And the world talks far too much, the result being the diluting of secrets and mystery.
# 12 [10 February 2011]
I'm going to come right out and say it has I see it and probably shoot myself in the foot for my old fashioned idea of the artists life. These days there is just too much talking, too much debate, too much destraction for the artist to concentrate on what really matters; the creative process and self discovery. You have to concentrate on learning skills, to finding the sincerity of exploration, to have desire in yourself to work. Students need to learn basics, to want to have the need to do it, not have art as an easy option like so many I've come across. And the governments should do whatever it takes to allow this to be possible and in the long run benefit society.
# 11 [6 February 2011]
There are moments of great intensity in the life of an artist. When you see something and really feel it, the deep secrets within a place that make you feel almost out of yourself. Like making love with the heat of the summer thickening the room. Today I had such a moment watching Miles Davis and his band play Isle of White festival, the out of body creativity coming together in a collaboration of purity. I felt the same on the arrival of the rare, out of print book I ordered 'Wyeth at Kuerners', a compilation put together by the artists wife, a large collection of Andrew Wyeth's life works of one family on one farm, proving what possibilities lie deep inside just one single subject; the whole of life.
I have not sketched for a long time, concentrating on the finished drawings, but it is time again to pick up pen and pencil and capture all that is around me, in the fleeting moments. For four days now the wind has blown hard, it carries something within it you can't put your finger on, something that makes you want to experience the land. It is all part of what I am looking for, the raw side of things. I can hear the wind in here as I write, like it wants to get in, but I have the sound of it safe within the walls while outside all is disturbed. To experience both sides of it at the same time. Even in the towns, the wind and the land make you know yourself.
# 10 [4 February 2011]
About seven years ago I read a book by the artists/historian John Golding, 'Paths to the Absolute'. I went to visit him at home. At the time I was still trying to find a way forward through abstraction, but chatting led me to believe in what he said in the conclusion to his book, that profundity will reassert itself. It also led me to feel what I was at the time, that art was on the road to a block, loosing something, the only way forward was to go back again about seventy years, learn and reasses. I believe some artists on these blogs are seeing that now. Maybe I'm wrong. Art is about the object, or the self as object, to sink deep into its essence is the way to finding truth. I can vanish into a room and leave the world behind, only to find a mirror reflecting back a universe. It is the same for everyone. Science looks forward by looking for the fundemental building blocks, so it should be for artists. The soul of an artist, an object, a place is where the truth is found together with the way that he or she should personally reveal it. My life is an island and on it can be found the whole of life, it is up to other artists to find their own islands. They will all be linked by the universal experience of life.
# 9 [30 January 2011]
One does not have to look far to understand the source of the driving force behind ones art; the solid, physical presence of emotions. They make ones art because they make the artist. You have to be in touch with emotions to get a grasp of it, to see the layers of meaning there. And then there is the emotion towards ones subject, the emotional intensity towards it. It is about love and hate, beauty and ugliness, and all inbetween. When you get to know a subject like this, you feel all of these things for it, and all of your energy goes into the art, to go deep enough to get it all in. In some ways, it is understandably an angry process. You don't always get there, maybe the thing blinds the seeing, but it always comes back. It is about getting the emotions we all feel; I have got towards the end of my counselling and have come to understand more of what grounds me, more of what drives the work. You have to get to the point where one trusts your instincts, what comes from that gut feeling, the immediacy at the point of contact. You can see it in other artists; some are looking for it but don't recognise that the answers is already there, it comes from looking to hard. Some are dealing straight with it. You can't do it without opening yourself up, it all comes from the issue of trust.
I realised today that my drawings are finished works, yet I have not drawn for recording sake for a long time now, drawing for that immediacy, on the spot. I also know that this type of drawing is totally different to my finished works, but there should be a link there.
# 8 [25 January 2011]
Doubt and insecurities, I have mentioned them before. I have more frustration for it not being easier to get ones work noticed. And noticed for the fact of others benefiting from it, not just to earn money. Doubt is always a natural and constant presence, counteracted by understanding it can help the questions and make one stand back and take a fresh look. It keeps one on track. So the insecurities too, we are never without them and they too inform the work. It all stops me from becoming complacent, and I am glad for it and understanding it helps get over the pain it can often cause. I am no strength of wisdom, me, the one struggling to understand depression and the impact of my life on my work. I can understand as well that any viewer of my work comes to it with enough of their own doubts and life, so they hardly need any more of mine. But this is exactly why I try to remove myself from the work, so that it is their own selves they can face and understand.
And doubt is hard on artists because it throws itself back at us from our very own work, we stare straight at it. Does all this make me strong, maybe, but very often I'm still terrified.
# 7 [23 January 2011]
On the topic of subject. So many artists I read about these days are acknowledging the need to extend their range of interests to further the possibilities of getting paid work. I have to ask myself then if I have become a bit of a dinosaur, a stubborn relic of the times when artists stood by one subject, by the deep penetration of it by way of a particular medium, of inputting a sole enquiry for one particular end; the deepest understanding of that subject, by the artist and for the artist. To get to know something, really know something, takes a very long time, to be able to get intimate in every sense with it, to detour away removes oneself from valuable time that could have been spent. I know my home, its every season, the moods and dimensions it is capable of revealing. It means that the richness that comes from this depth not only fulfils my own emotional questions and responses, but hopefully heightens the ability of others to see things anew. Within a single subject can be hidden and entire world. I could adapt, but it would detract me, this I suppose makes it less possible for me to get chances, but distractions are my obstacles.
Maybe the devotion to my own subject and methods is a problem existing only on the recesses of my own mind? I cannot leave it knowing I may have left many doors unopened, knowing I have not scratched the surface of every piece of plaster, every brick and mortar, every infinite layer of domesticity and intimacy. A world within a world.
# 6 [21 January 2011]
Are these posts selfish, depressing, contained around the same limited subject matter? I hope not, but fear they may be. Apologies. Art is so wrapped up with the self, I simply maybe to weak to be any other way? But that's me, that's the way I work, can't help it. And life sometimes gets in the way when all you want to do is sit silently and think about the artwork, where to go with it next, the anxiousness of starting new pieces, of all the concerns over it. Like today, have to take my partners father to the doctors, go straight to get our shopping, go to check on my mother. Of course these are things you do naturally, without question, but somehow it gets all mixed up with the time to think, to be in my own world. And then there are all the other artists out there, I know things are no different for me than many, but back to self again, tired from the effort, looking back over the wrong turns I made, knowing I have very little in the way of contacts, sending message after message to galleries and curators with no reply, desperate (harsh word) to get interest in my new ideas because I want to share them.
I am not a person who can't talk about concerns, and artists have many to deal with, I think they are set apart. Am I going on, painting a wrong picture of a desperate, selfish creative? Far from the truth that is, but sometimes you have to get the things off your chest. Artists are tied up in a long line of historical personalities, not alone. Even if it sounds weird, I am always grateful I live in a life of complexities and contradictions, of deep emotions and ways to express them.
# 5 [20 January 2011]
Why do I keep doing it, simply because after all this time I probably couldn't do anything else, not that I want to. You realise that one can't carry on as an artist without some personal support, it is that strange mixture of having strength in oneself, but fragility too. It is this golden mixture of the two opposites that creates my possibilities, my own vision of things, the way I approach and understand. I beat myself up on occasions about how selfish this undertaking is, but then feel that I have a right to believe in my work and worth for the insight I have. And it isn't as if I don't share it. There I go again, doubt, the fog that haunts artists. It is waiting for that special opportunity, moment, a waiting helped always as long as some smouldering embers keep alight.
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