I'm ruled now by images. It seems like the work of putting words together is less accessible to me. The reverse was true a few years ago. Josh and I used to complain that text was dying. "People" only cared about pictures and wouldn't stop to read anything. Of course, that wasn't true. It felt true, but it wasn't. We are all of us always reading. And back then, I was writing. Somewhere, the mood changed. Not irrevocably. I'm writing this now. Blah, blah, blah. Words, words, words. I wrote an essay about my epilepsy this spring. I wrote a short story about some men on an island who spend their free days and nights together. I've written artist statements, project proposals for inclusion in art shows, and applications for studio space. I have written this year, and I will write again, but not like I'm drawing.
Drawing is both immediate and patient magic. I have an idea, and I have my hand, and there's a strong, quick line between them. But not everything I imagine translates. In fact, I try to imagine the least and then build up to an image as I go along. Each drawing is a puzzle to which I throw away the answer of the box before I begin.
I'm working on larger paper. More room for meditation as I fill in the space with colored pencil. More time with the drawing, which is all I really want. More time to solve the puzzle, so I'm making larger puzzles.
People buy my work sometimes, but I still can't tell you what they like and don't like. I know what I like, and that's where I'm always headed. Boxes of work. Stacks of drawings. On and on. I want one gigantic wall where I can hang every single piece like they're the squares of a quilt. I haven't known how to articulate that when people ask why I make what I make. Art isn't always about making a point to other people. More often, it's about making a point to yourself.
The point: I made that.
Earlier this year, I was a finalist for a local artist award. During the panel visit, I had a hard time explaining my work, and the panel had a hard time accessing it because of that. People require permission to engage with something as personal as art, and I thought simply showing them my work would provide that permission. They asked me questions that were already answered by the work on display. When the panel left, I knew I wouldn't win the award, and I didn't.
So now I'm working on forming the two people necessary to be an artist—the maker and the explainer. We will see. I admire David Lynch's irritation at having to explain his movies after he's made them. "As soon as you finish a film, people want you to talk about it. And it's, um, the film is the talking." In the recording of this statement, he winces between the two sentences.
I wince with him.
But I'm trying. Instead of falling completely into the zone, I ask a part of myself to stay separate and hover above the work critically. Why are you doing this? Is it just to soothe you? What does the snake mean? The deer? The men? Why these colors? Why these materials? Some of these questions, I've been able to glimpse the answers. Some are still evasive. And some are none of my business. When you look at artwork, those questions become your responsibility, too.
Other things are happening here. Josh and Shawn and I are still living and loving together. We miss our dog and love/hate our cat. My snake continues to be a quiet presence in the corner of the bedroom. I need to feed her. I've been having dreams where she bites me and won't let go.
Let go, you stupid snake. Just let go.