More important still, we must hold enormous faith in ourselves: it is essential that the revelation we receive, the conception of an image which embraces a certain thing, which has no sense in itself, which has no subject, which means absolutely nothing from a logical point of view... I repeat, it is essential that such a revelation or conception should speak so strongly in us, evoke such agony or joy, that we feel compelled to paint, compelled by an impulse even more urgent than the hungry desperation which drives a man to tearing at a piece of bread like a savage beast." - Giorgio De Chirico
"You are so much at better at being a grown-up than I am", I said to my husband this morning. After a Radley health scare, 2 days of entertaining a visiting mother with the accompanying emotional exhaustion involved in not strangling her, prepping for a garage sale until the wee hours of the morning, then getting up at 6 to sit in the 100-plus degree heat (the whole sale experience is for another blog, but here in NC, professional yard sale shopping is a rude, ruthless, aggressive sport), I wanted to retreat from the entire world and spend a few consecutive days in my studio. Now.
But the garage still had leftovers from the sale that needed to be boxed and separated: some carefully wrapped for Ebay shipment, and others thrown into a box to be picked up by Goodwill. We needed to be able to park our cars back in the garage.
I did not make a face. I did not stomp my feet, though I really felt like it. "I am willing to commit 2 hours to this project, then I have to go paint", was all I said, then I dove into the work. We are usually pretty silly when we are working on an unpleasant task together, but I had no reserves to draw from, so refraining from any childish petulance and doing what needed to be done was the best I could muster. Two hours later, I announced I was finished and went upstairs.
One of the great differences I am noticing between the old life of university teaching with artmaking squeezed in and the new life of full time painting is that it takes me a much shorter period of time to get cranky if I am not painting. Used to be, if I spent 4 or 5 days putting up a BFA show with my students, then had a series of critiques or meetings, by day 7 or 8, of I had not painted, I would become increasingly unhappy, and sometimes downright unpleasant. My brother, who knows me very well, could tell by talking to me on the phone that I had not been in the studio. "When's the last time you picked up your paintbrush?", he would ask. These days, when I am spoiled by being in the studio as a matter of course, it takes only a few days for me to feel like I am experiencing withdrawal. During these dry periods, I am plotting out the painting in my head as I sit in a movie theater with my mom, planning the next 5 glaze layers as I am falling asleep. Finally comes the moment when I walk up the stairs, close the door, pick up the brush, and all is right again.