I got an interesting question this last weekend, “How do you let go of your art?” It’s easy for me, I told the woman in front of me. I am a “Process Oriented” artist. That means, I find my joy in the creative journey when I paint. Other artists find their joy in the finished piece and they are “Goal Oriented”. I believe it is easier for “P/O” artists because we are ready for the next ride. The Woman who asked this seemed so passionate about her creations I asked her how many pieces of her own did she have. Tons! She told me. They are everywhere! I looked beyond her to the husband, and I said, “You need to learn to let go.” I was talking to her, but my eye was on him. He was looking relieved at my words.
Why do we need to let go? Let me answer with a question. Will you ever stop creating? I know I won’t. There is always another painting needing to be made, another image, another medium. So, if you are never going to stop, why keep them all? I know that I look back on several and shake my head. I don’t want to look at them, I never want to see them again. They were from a place I once was, not where I am standing now. I want to make them disappear.
We need to learn to let go so we don’t get hung up on where we were. I am not saying to get rid of anything older than 3 years, but you really don’t need to hold on to everything. I bring my mom into these subjects because I learned a lot from her. When we moved, she had a burn party. She took all of her very old prints, several drawings and quite a few paintings and put them on a bonfire. Friends shrieked in outrage and drug things from the flames. She was adamant, “I never want to see them again. If you saved them, get them out of my sight”. Not everything we create holds value in the finished work. Sometimes the value is in the lesson we learned from it. Doesn’t mean we need to keep the exercise. That is almost like keeping every scrap of paper we generate from 19 years of grade school. Why? Keep the best, until you create something better. If you try to fix it and it is still a failure, get rid of it. Keeping our failures make us want to hold on tighter to our successes and all that stuff will drag us down. We need to sell our successes; well I do, maybe you don’t.
You are an artist, that means you will want to keep creating. There are 2 things I need as an artist. 1) do my art and 2) I need someone to see it. I must have attention for my art, I live for the ooohs and ahhhs. (Thank you Jodi and T at the school for being my audience) I know I do not need to see the old stuff. If you are going to keep something old, keep the very best. Now, what do we do with the worst? I’m going to pick 5 and burn them. It is time. I have reworked them and tried for a long time to sell them. It is time for them to go. It’s okay, I need an excuse to buy my pastels so I can start another creative journey.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.