Monday, March 15, 2010
Your Excitement Meter
Art Without Compromise by Wendy Richmond
Chapter 8: "Your Excitement Meter"
section 1: "Excitement Meter"
It's good to be back again and to catch up on your lively and informative discussion during my absence. What a wonderful group!!
I've moved ahead to the final chapter in Richmond's book, which I hope to complete and summarize by the end of this week. You'll notice that I've skipped Chapter 7 altogether, and parts of Chapter 6 because of the particular interests of this group, but highly recommend that you all purchase this book and read it.
The first section of Chapter 8, "Excitement Meter," begins with a paradox: Why is it that artists, who are innovative, self-motivated, nonconformists, become less inventive when they become career artists? That is, when an artists decides to turn pro, he/she will often follow a more conventional path that is paved with stones molded by the experiences, practices, and advice of others at the expense of fashioning their own unique path. The artist transforms in order to fit. This is an interesting paradox.
Fledgling career artists frequently seek Richmond's advice, and her solution to the paradox is not to give conventional advice, but to talk about her "excitement meter." This meter is defined as Richmond's internal gauge, an indicator of what I find interesting and positive and worth pursuing. When I have a positive reaction to something, I take care to notice it. I don't try to come to any conclusions; I just register the reaction. At some later point, I look at this collection of seemingly unrelated ideas or events, and I usually find a pattern that reveals that I didn't see when I experienced each element in isolation.
This solution to the paradox yields the greatest chance for innovation. I like the way the author reveals the recipe for innovation as the intersections of seemingly unconnected ideas or interests that the artists feels strongly about. Perhaps this is one good reason for artists to keep a journal. We need to look for and find those connections in order to be truly innovative and unique. The work of our good friend PAMO is a very recent example of Richmond's idea. Just recently, Pam linked together her cartoons and videography in a truly unique way that brings to life her work and the reactions of others to it. It's a multifacted approach to cartooning that involves the viewer to a large degree. That's innovation!
Richmond telescopes her idea to include a more personal kind of innovation... a new way of structuring a job, a career, a school, or a way of life. As she points out, innovation isn't exclusive to technology. We can fashion our careers by combining the things that excite us most. For an example, Richmond cites a woman who launched an innovative jazz dance studio in New York city with a sumer retreat by the ocean, thus combining what she loved.
The author concludes with the admonition to give attention to our excitement meters because, with vigilance and time, we'll read it more accurately. I like that advice.
Before I close this post, I'd like to turn your attention to an interesting article about Rothko that was forwarded to me by our good friend Deborah Stearns. The article, from the Washington Post, is entitled "National Gallery exhibit challenges traditional view of Rothko's black paintings" and provides some wonderful insights that add to our recent discussions. To access the article, just click on the photograph below.
And now, your thoughts??