Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quiet, Please!

I don't know about you, but I don't really need absolute isolation and quiet when I paint.  I usually have the stereo on, and my dog Champ putters about the studio while I stand and paint.  That doesn't bother me.  Heck, I've painted in front of crowds of friends and strangers.  No problem.  And it wouldn't even bother me if a marching band blasted away while they marched by my studio.  Let 'em.  But the one place I need quiet from is the space between my ears.

I don't think of myself as a "temperamental artist" sort of guy.  I like to think that my job is being a painter, not one of God's anointed ones to bring truth, enlightenment and beauty to this world.  I do take my job seriously, but all-in-all, I just try to make good paintings.  So it bothers me when I have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand because I'm preoccupied by something else.  I'm not talking about anything major, but I'll give you an example.  We've had a less than spectacular Spring and Summer here in Maine, but that hasn't kept the grass from growing.  So, when I'm working on a painting on a lovely summer day, I'm thinking about mowing the lawn, because the forecast is for rain, and it needs to be done.  But when it's been rainy and miserable, (which has been most of the time) I'm preoccupied with what I'm going to paint when it turns nice.  But then, I'll have to mow the lawn...  Now, I should say here that mowing the lawn entails a six-hour ride on the lawn tractor.  But, damn, those lawn stripes look so good.

There are other things going on in my life right now (nothing horrible, thank goodness) that have been occupying my mind.  But I can't make a good painting when my brain is chattering away with itself on things that have nothing to do with the task at hand.  Painting needs to have my undivided attention-- just like those temperamental artist types.  So I need for my brain to shut up and get back to work!

I used to inwardly snigger when I would read an account of some famous artist who needed to be insulated from life's little distractions so he could create yet another masterpiece.  But now, I kinda get it.  Would my painting be so much better if I could just lock myself in my studio and never worry about what goes on in the world around me?  I don't know.  But I do know this:

Michelangelo never had to climb down from the Sistene Chapel ceiling and mow the damn yard!



Karla said...

Interesting. Maybe it's b/c I'm still a beginner, but I can't paint worth **** if I am distracted. Not that I paint that well other-wise! I was in the Philly/Wilmington area earlier this month and just happened to get to a museum where Andrew Wyath's grand-daughter was giving a tour. She said he would not even let family watch him paint. He would ask "Would you let me watch you have sex?" hmmmm

Kevin Mizner said...

Karla, I've taken that tour. That was all part of the Wyeth mystique. Andy wouldn't be caught dead on a lawn tractor, either!

Susan Roux said...

I wonder if it's a sign of improvement. I too didn't use to fret over multiple interruptions or noises in my head while painting. I use to paint while running a daycare! Now however, I thrive on leaving the house for a week's time to get away from all the normal life interruptions and nagging quilt feelings of not mowing, cleaning or doing laundry...

I think we know more about art and a quiet mind is necessary to bring all that knowledge to the forefront and out our brush!