Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Cause Without a Rebel

I don't find the myth of the starving artist to be alluring. I don't relish the idea of the writer in the garret, scotch bottle at his right, cigarette smoldering in the overflowing ashtray. I'm not drawn to self-destructive he-men like Jackson Pollock splattering his work over giant floor-sized canvases while his wife sacrifices her art and happiness on the altar of his genius. I don't need to die young, wrapped bone and sinew in the chassis of my Porsche 550.

There are days when I actually consider that might be why I'm not a better artist.

Then I remember this guy, a printmaker of some skill, which was a friend of the family. My mother and her husband were both amazing artists in their fields but both suffered from anxiety disorder as well as other emotional scarring and trauma. This printmaker actually said "I wish I could have panic attacks so I could be a great artist". Obviously he lacked the imagination required to move from 'competent' to 'great'.

When I have my moments of angst over my lack of success as an artist I like to think about Raphael. He was hugely successful, very prolific, handsome, and amiable. What more could you ask for? Oh wait, he died at 37 years old. Ok, but that wasn't too bad right? After all it was the Renaissance, more dangerous times and all.

Wait, hold on… I'm rummaging through my hard drive for more examples of happy productive artists (preferably ones that were slow starters because they were too busy just sort of wandering around aimlessly until their mid-thirties)…

Hmm… Rembrandt won't do because though he started out happy and successful (in love with his wife Saskia) he ended up with tragedy and poverty.

Maybe painters aren't the best source for the happy successful artists sans angst? I should turn to literature.

Ah! Henry Miller.

I'm sure he had his moments of angst but he lived a very long life, was successful during his lifetime, and screwed tons and tons of beautiful interesting broads. There you go. Oh and on the subject of long lives I did think of a painter: Picasso! So he was an asshole to all around him. I'm sure he was totally happy.

I, too, can be a happy successful artist. Of course if I'm not an asshole will that hinder me? Perhaps I should cultivate being more of a jerk?

Or maybe, just maybe, I should stop navel gazing and write something besides another blog post?

Oh, ok, I just have to share this will all three of you that read this: so last night I'm trying to go to sleep but the lovely lady has on her show because she's not quite sleepy yet and I'm trying to ignore it, but you know I can't ignore dialogue. I start to listen whether I want to or not. I'm not sure what show she was watching but I wish I had a photographic memory so I could share with you all (that's you five over there) the deathless bad writing. I never ever heard anything so hackneyed in my life. Without seeing the actors or other distracting visual content I could just focus on the clich├ęs. It was horrendous. I had to turn on my light and start reading Elmore Leonard before I made an ass of myself and told her just how crappy the show was. Would that have qualified me as an asshole artist? Did my restraint forever doom me to be just another wannabe?


Scarecrow said...

I think with the modern artists it's the cliche of the squeaky wheel getting the oil, or however that goes. The ones who create scenes and act like jerks grab all the attention. They are the art, not their product, which is usually crap without them prancing around putting on a show.

With the older artists there are probably quite a few who were successful and not angst filled rebels, but who remembers those stories? They are aren't very exciting, are they?

I don't think it takes alcohol and drugs and torment to be creative. I lived that and don't remember having a single creative moment in all that time. Although admittedly I've drawn on it now.

Ack, your last paragraph is causing me torment. I'm trying to remember the name of an old radio program I think starred Jack Webb, where just about every line out of his mouth was one of those bad lines like she had the sort of body that made a man's blood run hot, but the gun in her hand turned it to ice.

Pan Historia said...

I wish that the dialogue of the TV show I was forced to listen to was even half as good. At least that Raymond Chanderlesque style is colorful.

This was just banal and repetitive and a condensed version of every line you ever heard on a modern cop show.

Drawing on life's experience is essential for any artist, but there should definitely be a difference from drawing on it and wearing it like a badge that makes you special in some way.

Thanks for your comment.