At the same time, as creative individuals, we are encouraged to find ourselves, to delve deeper and deeper into truth; our truth, someone’s truth, the Truth of the Ages. It is suggested we ignore the opinions of others and do what our hearts tell us to do: to scribble unconsciously, to throw, scoop, or fling as our inner explorer demands. We search for our way; not a mentor’s way, not a teacher’s way nor the way of any other human that came before us (as if all other creative acts are passe somehow). We head into the jungle dreaming of finding Atlantis, Mr. Livingstone, or at least some small evidence of sasquatch.
©2011 Patricia Scarborough Last Glance 12x16 Pastel
These two facets, the creating and the comparison, cause an oxymoronic situation that we as artists must deal with every time we step to the easel, the potter’s wheel, the writing table, loom or sewing machine. Those of us who have a desire to make a living from our creative work (or at least pay our own expenses now and then) are given the task of balancing this wobbly scenario: Be yourself, but not so much that the rest of us can’t like you.
This is on my mind now because I’m preparing for a solo exhibit, and also because it’s the season for juried exhibitions. Both require equal amounts of Intrepid Explorer vs a Please Like Me! attitude.
And that’s the paradox, isn’t it?
So far I’ve been lucky in that what I love to paint, and how I paint it, have been fairly acceptable to the public and the jurist. This means I can continue to do what I do in the way I do it and not feel like a lone voice in the wilderness. Having said that, I also know that there are avenues for me to explore which may not meet with the same acceptance.
©2011 Patricia Scarborough Holding Time 12x16 Pastel
To remain in the circulation of the viewing public is the desire of most of us, certainly. Very few of us would bother if we’re ignored, or if the reaction to our work is so bland it doesn’t register. Exclusivity works best when we’re on the inside looking out.
But while there is comfort in acceptance, there is also – for me - need for discomfort, for challenge and growth. I'm not after the source of the Nile, but I do wonder about it.
I’ll figure it out. It won’t happen tomorrow, or even soon.
How do you make it work – or do you?