It would be highly unfair, readers, if I issued a challenge for you to become Makers this summer, and then refused to play my own game.
My Own Work
It would also be suicidal, I think, given that I have an art show that I have to prepare for, in November. If I had nothing to present or display for thirty days, that would be… bad. It would embarrass a couple of different fiends of mine, and it would disappoint members of my family, and I would feel like I was a poseur instead of an artist. And, I would miss out on numerous chances to make art. Which I care about, and regard as a valuable part of my life and work.
So, today I got out the paints, and began working on a few paintings. My usual habit, really, is to produce several different quantities of several hues of paint on a separate sheet of paper. Then, I’ll apply each of those hues to several canvases at a time in the places where they appear to go. This is the process at work here, and part of the reason that so many canvases appear to be in process all at once. That’s because they are. And maybe it’s not the best way to work on paintings. I don’t know, I’ve never done it another way. Maybe there is another way. If there is, would someone link me to a video? I feel like I waste a lot of paint this way— and make, and use, a lot of colors that I shouldn’t combine.
I’ve joked elsewhere that it wouldn’t be much of an “Andrew Watt Gallery Show” if there wasn’t a lot of geometric art in it. A lot of polygons in circles, and polygrams (multiple-pointed stars) in circles should be common. I like those kinds of forms. I’m disappointed in how the orange turned out in the painting with the nine-pointed star, though. As it’s dried, I must admit that it looks much more like the pure red on the left. Hmmm. Do I fix it, or do I leave it as is? Decisions, decisions.
That’s very much the logic at work in the next two I’m working on. These are much more in the ‘landscape’ genre, although both of them are in what we’ve all come to think of as ‘portrait’ mode. Oops. Some of this is dictated by the space that I have on my walls— The one on the left is going to be, roughly, a scene from a recently vivid dream. The one on the right, although equally imaginary, was originally conceived of as a commission: someone wanted a path extending into the distance that represented a particular kind of journey. Eventually, sometime in early December, they might get their painting.
Encouraging Your Work
Now we get down to the meat of the matter, Oh Readers. Several of you have written to me, both private-like and publicly, to say that you’re thinking about joining the game. But there’s an important, and magical, lesson at work here, and that is that it’s time to decide. It would be easy for you to sit on the fence until another chunk of the summer is done, and then sit back and produce ten half-formed, junky things in the last couple of weeks of August, and call it “done. Nailed it.”
But it would be much better for you to produce your junky, half-formed things NOW, in the early part of the summer, so that— as your heart and mind remembers how much FUN Making Things can be, you produce your junky half-formed things in the early part of the summer… and then you harvest much nicer, much more beautiful things later in the summer.
You don’t even have to know what something is going to be when you start out. When I began this painting, I thought it was going to be a few clouds above a sea, with a person seated in meditation on the right.
I am not that good. And I finally decided that I dislike this painting-as-begun, so much, that I’m going to completely paint over it. I have no idea what the new painting is going to be. Some part of me says “abstractions of something” and part of me says “terraces at some sort of mythical Macchu Picchu.” I have no idea.
You don’t even have to decide, dear readers, what you’re going to make. All you have to decide is that you’re going to Make Some Things this summer. And then it will be easy, because you’ll be on the lookout for things to Make, that you want to Make.
That step—the deciding—is critical. It’s like taking the blue pill in The Matrix, or agreeing to drink three times from Wednesday’s mead-horn, or putting your hand in the monstrous carved mouth in the porch of some Roman church and saying “I’ll Make ten things this summer.”
But maybe it’s better if I ask you this: If you’re still on the fence, readers, if you’re still undecided… what’s holding you back? Send me a comment, and explain why it is that you’re not committing to being a Maker this summer.