Living With An Artist Is Weird & The Blessing of Experience
This evening (after a day of chemo and doctor appointments for Steve) found me standing in the bathroom, staring at the black-grout-lined white tiles of the floor, a four by four square of eight inch tiles framed off by towels and bath mats.
Is this too big? Can I do this right now? Can I jump back in with something this big? Should I go smaller?
No, don’t listen to the fear. Don’t play small. Don’t talk yourself down, you’ve done bigger, you can do this.
“Steve, can I borrow you in the bathroom?” I holler.
He walks into the bathroom.
“I know, I know, living with an artist is weird,” I say, waving one hand, as he pulls a face at the bathmats and towels askew on the floor. “Is this too big? Do you think I can do this right now, jumping back in? Or should I go smaller – 24″ x 24″?”
“Do I think you can? Do I think you should? I know you can, but do you know what to do with it? I don’t know,” he says, in that smart ass faux-sage way he uses when he knows I’m asking him something because I doubt myself way more than he thinks I should.
I know he does it, and he knows I know, and he knows it works.
“Well, yes, I know what to do with it – Hope would play well this big. It’d be whites and other colors.”
“It’d be eye-catching,” he adds.
“Yeah, something this big is.”
“But should I do something this size instead?” I move my feet from my half-asssed ballet-first-position-wobbly-stance, and frame the corner of a 3 by 3 tile square section.
Nonchalantly, he shrugs and half-sighs. “Do both.”
Well, since he’s willing to build the panels… okay.
And so I confirm with the curator of the group show I was accepted to that I’m shooting for a 32″ x 32″ piece, a 24″ x 24″ piece, and a 12″ x 12″ piece, a quick email. The first show I’ve done in any space in over a year that wasn’t owned by family.
Only, this time, a bit unexpectedly, instead of freaking out if I can do it, or if I’ll do a good enough job, I’m not actually worried if I can. I’m just not. Maybe because it’s in a craft brewery, and I just want an excuse to paint something bigger, and hang it in a place outside of my house. Maybe it’s because I’m not actually worried if it sells, so I can price it without worry. Maybe because I’m finally happy with my cradles, and frames, and sealing, and all of the presentation.
Or maybe it’s because I’ve settled in to what I’m trying to say and there is a quiet confidence in my work that I was missing a few years ago. Maybe because, to me, finally, it’s good enough; good enough because it says what I want, and it bothers me less and less when people don’t get it. Maybe because it’s less about approval and more about refining how I say what I want to say. Maybe, maybe it’s because it’s less about what other people think, or if I can get what I want, and now it’s finally about what I can say.
So I answer doubt with reasonable answers based on past experience, that gift that is given to you after so many years of stubborn, (cussedly stubborn, as a dear friend lovingly calls me), determined, dedicated years of hammering away at what your hands can do and who you are.
May we all be blessed someday with that kind of experience, the confidence it gives to you, and the fucks it takes from you.