Monday, December 15, 2008

Failure and Sandwiches

I am thinking that failing is the only way one can approach making "good" art. I think that without it, and the subsequent collapse of ego, the true painting cannot begin. Until this event, a failure, we can rely upon what we know, what works, and the results of what has come before. What I do not think we can do is push past what we have done before and create something new that surprises and challenges us. It seems that it is really only when I am lost that I can find the painting. Otherwise, I am just repeating myself, repeating the works of others, relying on and developing from the point of a style, and not making something that is really all that good.

Maybe this is why I like to do so many things, why I get stuck sometimes and cannot finish a thing, and the things I do finish are better than I am capable of doing through skill, talent, knowledge, what have you. I like being in the unknown, but crave the illusion that others' successes came out of knowing what they were doing or where they were going.

Maybe this is why I have always doubted the value of my work, always looked at what the other, more financially successful artists were doing, even though I felt that some of them were only stealing from more talented and original artists and passing it off as their own. Some of them seem to have a confidence I lack. I don't know. Like I said, it is an illusion that things are easier, that they have confidence.

I had anger for many years toward artists who steal blatantly from others. Especially when this theft resulted in financial gain for them. I was jealous of their success and my failure. These are artists whose work I actually looked up to and thought was somehow better than mine. The real failure was letting fear stop me from doing what I wanted and paying the other artists any attention. Though my anger is gone, I no longer see their work as having any value to me. I see it as just them trying on hats, wanting to do what they loved, and maybe not as conscious of their thefts. At any rate, is it really possible for a work to be "better" than another. I am on the fence on this.

I was making sandwiches this morning for my son Gabriel and myself. And I felt, that I was only really making good sandwiches, being a good father, by completely forgetting about myself and focussing on his welfare, his well being, and making a sandwich.


Eduardo Alvarado said...

Dear Bill, I think you are a great draughtsman-ilustrator-painter..and a I have a feeling that you are a great man!

So, thank you very much for show here your intimate and interesting reflections that show us the process of personal development of a great artist!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

I really needed to read that at this very time. I am just about to move my photography business out of the second bedroom and into a studio in West Oakland and am more than a little nervous about it. What you have written here really helped clarify why it is important to take risks and force one's self to do different things.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I miss our coffee conversations on Irving Street!

Bill Koeb said...

Thank you Eduardo, and thank you Kevin.

I know that you will be completely successful with the move. Thank you for your response to my post, I miss seeing you too.