Friday, October 31, 2008

Artistic Hell

I had planned to write about how great the Art of Action Orientation day was but, sadly, that fabulous experience is now a memory - it was pretty great though: met amazing people; got to sit in the legislative chamber (how cool is that! Now I know why people go into politics - for the architecture). Quote of the Day from one of my fellow artists as we were ambling out and heading home "Their enthusiasm is contagious".

That was then, this is now: Artistic Hell is where I am. I can't believe I thought this would be easy. It is the hardest thing I've ever done.

Number one problem I am overwhelmed with material but none of it is visual. I read panel presentations from industries, foundations, politicians, and academics from all over the state; they are fascinating. I want to cover everything that has ever happened or could happen in the State of Vermont: this is completely insane. I move on to reading transcripts of forums conducted by the Council on the Future of Vermont on how Vermonters see the state and, of course, their lives - and I ache for pictures to put with the information: I need visuals, I need to be there, to feel the way people sit, the way they turn their heads, their presence; I need to see their stories in their faces. I look at the photos Sarah Waring has so thoughtfully posted on the Council on the Future of Vermont website; nothing jumps out. I go to the Pawlet library and come back with piles of books about Vermont and finally learn about the Green Mountain Boys, Governor Benning Wentworth's land grants (that's how Bennington got its name!!) and the dispute with New York. I am embarrassed that I have lived in this state for 14 years and know so little about its history. Now I want to paint that history but that idea doesn't really fit the project. Sigh.

I cover the walls of my studio with words, thoughts, ideas - but where are the pictures? I am having a hard time finding the visual metaphor that will summarize and express my thoughts. The good news is that I now have an answer to the third question they asked when we were being filmed for the AOA video, the one that goes "how does this kind of project change your creative approach?" Answer: it is completely different - backwards and upside down. Usually my inspiration comes from within and instantly and is pure joy - the painful fleshing out comes afterwards. The beginning is always pictures, always a vision; verbalization comes later. Now I am part of someone else's inspiration - I am the paint as much as I am the painter and it all starts with words.

Somehow, I need the words to become pictures. I have started off in many different directions; none of them seems completely right. The time is so short. I think with envy of my fellow artists - I am certain that ideas are falling into their hands like ripe fruit.


Clair said...

lol - Elizabeth --- I know exactly where you are! Because I'm there as well. But I would have name your post ACADEMIC Hell. I've got four books going and a list of more whenever the money gets here. I can't stop thinking about it, but I'm in brain cramp mode. Everything I see becomes about the project. Of course, the problem is there is no project!! Just ether in my brain with gossamer images floating by, nebulous and melting at my touch.

I'm just hoping get enough grist in the mill and some flour will emerge. Then all I have to do is bake it.

(BTW -- I wanted to meet you because of your Three Trees -- you are my modern Constable)

Elizabeth Torak said...

Thanks Clair! It is so great to know that we are in the same boat - here's hoping we stay afloat - and actually arrive somewhere!

Elizabeth Torak said...

P.S. Thanks - I love Constable!