This one's a bit rambling, I'm sorry about that in advance. I've been struggling a lot the last few weeks with my art. Although I’ve been working and making every day almost all of it has been shit. It’s a classic dry spell. And just like a desert, there is only one way out – keep going. Like the irascible Richard Serra says, “Work comes from work.”
This is a lesson that took me a long time to learn and one I try and pass onto my students. The beauty of failure is that it builds the foundation for success, if you are willing to spend the time looking at what caused you to fall short. Most of my best work has come after extended dry spells, the result of an accumulation of just missed pieces finding their partner ideas somewhere else in the mix or brand new ideas emerging from half-formed inspiration. I needed the previous crap to compost before anything new could grow from it.
I guess, if I were forced to boil it down, there are three main components I require to make a successful piece of work:
- Patience – to work through the dry spells and the less successful pieces.
- Confidence – that the less successful works will lead to something better
- Honed Instincts – to identify why pieces have not worked and realize when a piece is successful
This is why I keep so many sketchbooks and why I have a daily drawing practice. I need to pile up and capture things so I can look at them. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have an almost constant flood of ideas, but they are like wild beasts. I see my job as an artist is to decide whether they should be let go or whether it is worth the time and effort to cultivate them into something else.