“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic.”
This quote popped up on my studio calendar today by the late George Carlin, a stand-up comedian, actor & author. It paints such a great visual picture in my head. When you paint you tend to notice all the little things, like weeds growing out of tiny cracks in a dirty urban sprawl and yes they blow my mind with their beauty and sheer determination. I could talk about how nature prevails, despite mankind trying to concrete it over, but this morning I just thought wow, sometimes that’s how I feel as an artist.
There are plenty of far more heroic professions, but being an artist often feels like you are working so hard, trying to do all the right things to help you progress, but everyone’s too busy to notice these beautiful things you’ve created. You are trying so hard to find and then squeeze yourself through a tiny crack in the art world. It can be an endurance test, an ill-advised financial gamble, an impossible practical task, a ‘non-career’ vocation, a drain on your social relations, a crushing or occasional ego-boosting rollercoaster with no predetermined methods or incremental steps up the career ladder to guarantee success. You may or may not get training and a qualification for this job; you may or may not find that useful to your career. So why the heck do we put ourselves through this?
Visitors to my studio and gallery comment wistfully on how wonderful it must be to paint all day. I smile and think of all the non-painting hours spent juggling galleries, stock, framing, photography, research, website management and social media. Why we do it, is because it would be impossible to consider not doing it. The sheer blind joy of pursuing a painting. Mixing the perfect colours, getting lost in the day as the canvas fills with paint and transforms unwittingly before your eyes. Painting is like dropping into that high dive, maintaining control whilst letting go, knowing as you fall you will be embraced and emerge altered, better and ready to try again.
I love what I do and it is wonderful to paint all day. The time spent not painting is sometimes a relief but often leaves me missing that rush. The pursuit of beauty, the flower in the concrete, the joy on someone’s face when they look at a painting. Knowing my paintings are out there in the world, in people's homes, in restaurants and that they may be ignored and rushed past on a busy day, or they may catch someone’s eye and make them pause and consider, is quite amazing. I paint because I love the process. It brings me such a rush of adrenaline and makes me feel at ease with myself, open to ideas and with a desire to learn and become a better artist. The paintings become complete when they stick their heads out and get noticed. Sometimes with the help of a gallery, an Instagram post, or a friendly referral. When they are owned, observed, and enjoyed, they become their own creations, removed from my experience in the studio. The viewer decides if they are an inconsequential weed or a thing of heroic fuckin’ beauty.
If you want to come and witness a crazy artist at work you are very welcome to drop by my studio at Applegarth Farm in Hampshire. I enjoy having visitors to the studio space; it forces me to take a break and keeps me grounded in the real world. The feedback is always interesting and there's always paintings in progress on the studio wall, as well as finished paintings in the gallery to enjoy. Please check or call beforehand. Details here.
My little studio calender was made by me a few years back from an old issue of Breathe magazine.
If you want to find out about George Carlin here's the link