Sunday, July 26, 2015
Creative or Happy?
People complain about the change in my picture posts. I know. But what can I do? When the new Leica comes next week. . . well, there was much I had not thought about. I've been watching tutorials on the camera and how to process the black and white files that EVERYONE says are beautiful. But they come out of the camera flat and gray because it captures so much information. The images must be processed to look good. Does that sound like digital cheating? If it does, you've never worked in a darkroom. Every image there, if it is to be any good at all, has to be worked in any number of ways, from choosing the right grade paper and/or filters to the dodging and burning of the silver paper, then often enough a return to a bleach bath and some chemical toning. Good pictures don't just come out of the drugstore that way. So I've been online looking at tutorials of how to work with these particular files. It is different from working with color, and I am learning many new things. At night I lie in bed and think about what I will do with the camera, and when I get stuck and my imagination isn't firing, the thoughts turn to desperate nightmares and I think myself a spendthrift and a fool. There is a good chance that I am right.
The thing is, I realize that to be creative at all, whether you are making pictures or sculptures or music or stories, you have to go to "another place," a place where others are excluded. If you are going to do your best, you can't be distracted.
"Oh, honey, what are you doing? Can I watch?"
Creatives are assholes a lot. They have to have their time and space "away." I hate all the quotation marks, but these are metaphorical abstractions, for the "away" space is somewhere in your head. It requires a complete focus where you can confront your possibilities and your limitations. It is sometimes wildly satisfying but more often desperately anguishing. It is the self-doubt and the running up against the borders of your creative powers that stops most people. I am no Picasso, no genius, just a guy who goes "away" and tries to make images that seem to speak of something. If it is something I have to give up for a "normal" or "happy" life, I have always told myself, "what difference does it make. You are just jacking yourself off anyway." And then I think I'd rather let somebody else do it.
I had lunch with a writer yesterday. He used to be a dance and sometimes theater critic for the Times. He has written for the N.Y. Post, for Variety, and a host of other papers and magazines. He quit journalism to get a grad degree in creative writing and was mentored by Padgett Powell. He writes for hours every day and has turned down full-time teaching jobs so that he can focus on what he is doing. He is working on a book that is also a documentary film. He has backers. It is paying the bills.
We talked about it yesterday.
"Would you want to date an artist?" I asked him.
"I have. It is always tempestuous at best."
We talked about the problem of being in your own head for so much. He hasn't been able to keep a long relationship because of it, he said.
"I had one girlfriend for a while who was perfect. When we were together, I would drift off somewhere in my head, and when I came back maybe ten minutes later, she wouldn't have noticed. She'd say, 'Do you want to have sushi tonight,' and I'd say, 'Sure.' She was pretty perfect."
I've always been a "loner." I travel alone, read alone, sail alone, eat alone. . . . It is a way of seeing, a way of knowing.
I miss that, but I like the other thing, too. I am also a snuggler and a cuddler. I am a soft baby who likes lying on the couch watching movies with legs intertwined. I love making meals together at the end of the day and planning vacations.
There is no way to reconcile the two things. Ili says I should not quit making pictures, but I know how that goes. You can try to be a "genius" or you can try to be "happy." My creative desires are not very middle class. The things I want are all on the other side of the fence. They are beautifully dangerous. Therein lies my true talent. You have no idea of the things I'd like to go and bring back for you so outrageously wonderful.
For now, I must learn some new technical things. And last night I realized I will need to buy a printer and some black and white ink sets if I am to make prints. Jon Cone has developed the inks. They are very expensive. And I can't give up my color printer for this. More expenses. I will wait, though, and see how this all works out.
In the meantime, we will suffer through my daily pictures. Look at those girls. Exploited by the system and they don't even know it. I wonder how dark their creative space is? Indeed.