Tortured Artist

January 21, 2012 8:42pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 13 Comments

I like to consider myself as quite a creative person.  I love to make things and have put my hand to many mixed media art projects and had some fairly decent results.  You know, the kind where you hold up your ‘made thing’ and go “Yeah, I made that..ME!”  and smile inwardly and outwardly at your sheer brilliance.  I have always favoured more creative subjects hence my love for writing and photography and when I was at school preferred arty lessons as opposed to algebra and science.  Unfortunately for me I had a very strict Mother and when it was time to choose my options in year 9 to study for my final exams SHE chose them.
“But I want to do art and pottery and DRAMA” I wailed dramatically hoping she would notice the budding actress.
“ These are NOT proper academic subjects and will not get you a real job” she delivered firmly. “ You will take chemistry, physics and geography and become something important like a barrister or a speech therapist”
And so it was.  Well actually it wasn’t which just goes to show that parents are never right.
 Because I was steered away from my love of creation I now find every opportunity to relish in it.  Whenever I see something that I haven’t had a go at I immediately rush out and buy all the tools and paraphernalia that goes with it, for until I have it, I fear I will not be complete.  I have cupboards rammed with ribbons and bows and papers and cards and glues and melting pots and chalks.  I have every single type of pen you can imagine possible to draw or colour with and a bead and button selection on par with a haberdashery store.  I swear I could open a shop.  I am always saving odd things and pieces of paper and interesting pictures incase they can be used in a project.  And there they all remain behind the bulging doors waiting for me to do something with them.

 I am really starting to learn about myself and my quirky personality.  I have a raging enthusiasm for things when I first get into them.  So much so that when I meet people I’ve not seen for a few months they ALL say “ So, Juliette, what is it you’re doing now?” and this is because whatever I was doing six months ago was going to SET THE WORLD ON FIRE!  Everything I do gets made into a possible money making business venture and once I’ve marketed it to the point of exhaustion and got it up there I get….bored.  This is why I define myself as a serial entrepreneur.  No stickability whatsoever unless it’s writing or photography for these two mediums produce instant, gratifying results.  OK, so I’ve found my thing but I still get drawn into new creative ideas; like recently:  A famous British artist called David Hockney has been on TV a lot lately promoting his upcoming exhibition in London.  Now the thing that really captured my interest is that he is currently producing paintings from his ipad.  Off he goes into the countryside with his tablet and pen and knocks out a woodland scene that blows your mind.  No mess, no water, no paint.  Simple.  “WELL I CAN DO THAT!” I thought and instantly went to the app store to buy the paint programme.  Now I have never done painting before but didn’t think it would be too hard. HA!
My initial finger painting attempts looked like this:
Then the other day I went to a Lowry exhibition which further encouraged my inner artist.  As I studied his paintings I mused to myself “I really could get to grips with this if I gave it a bit more effort…hmmm..perhaps I need the drawing/painting pen to help me with detail”  
Off I rushed to the Apple store and said “Give me the BEST drawing/painting pen you have” I urged “Whatever David Hockney uses!”
With my new art tool in my pocket I scurried home ready to find the impressionist within.  I found a photograph I had taken of a Venetian canal that at the time I thought would be relatively easy to copy and yet detailed enough to develop more skills and certainly more patience and discipline. This is it:
 Within 40 minutes I was screaming “I HATE THIS RIDICULOUS PEN”   If I didn’t press hard enough it didn’t work and if I pressed too hard its rubbery point would catch on the screen.  I wanted to throw it from a fast moving car, smash it into my ipad or gauge my eyes out with it. This was when I noticed the tortured artist in me emerging.  I opted to go to bed before I became violent.  The next evening I revisited my painting with calm and patience. Not five minutes later I felt sick with stress.  Why had I chosen to paint something with so many GODDAM BRICKS in it?  I decided I might feel better in relaxed clothes so went and changed into my pyjamas and my freshly laundered fluffy white dressing gown.  Back to the scene I went to paint the canal.
 Three times I tried and had to rub it out and re start it. Had I been ALLOWED  to do art in school I MIGHT have known this technique!  
Time for wine I thought.  This would ease the stress, release creativity and put me in a dreamy state as painters always seem to be.  I opened a fine bottle of Rioja that I had kept hidden from Christmas guests and savoured it’s fruity nectar in a succession of gulps.  I refilled my glass and tried again to get to grips with replicating water and try as I might it wasn’t happening.  The canal  looked like a mixture of snow/fog/cloud and nothing like water AT ALL.

Fog? Snow? No…it’s water….
 In desperation I flung my arms out and carelessly knocked my glass of wine all over my keyboard, paper, desk, my NEW paint pen and my white fluffy gown. Now I was really upset.  This was a NICE wine and were it not for the fact I had recently sharpened my pencil on the desk I would have taken to slurping the pools of wine from the table.  The whole place looked like a crime scene and actually far more arty than my current painting which was utterly depressing.  I was on the verge of relentless hysteria when I had this epiphany- Do you know why Van Gogh cut his ear off?   This is why:

Not because he was a tortured soul but because he screamed in anguish and torment:

I’m telling you from experience: This pastime can lead to extremely violent behaviour and is not for the fainthearted.  


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I feel for you. The water does look like snow, but that’s not so bad. It is winter! I once took a drawing/painting course through the mail and was amazed how good my work came out. You just need expert instruction and you will shine. I became allergic to pastels and paint and had to quit. But I learned a lot in just a few months from that course. My family was shocked!

Belle’s spot on! I admire your hutzpah diving enthusiastically in solo, but note you yourself identified the lack of classroom opportunities early on! You gots the artistic mojo! Take it the proper master to help you get it out of your Rioja-stained self and on to the canvas, screen, big-time! If anyone can eventually create their masterpiece, I know you can!

these dreamcrusher mommies keep us humble – what to say?
good that you are tryng to purue what interests you and where you can shine the most

The flower is jolly nice, but the canal doesn’t even make sense as a photograph (what are all those poles there for?). You remind me a bit of Toad in The Wind in the Willows, although he was too talentless to make any money out of his crazes. Maybe you’re SuperToad!

There are a lot of starving artists but not many starving barristers! It is quite easy to pursue a hobby like art and photography when you have the money earned by a profession. It’s not dream crushing its wanting the best for your child when you know they have ability and while they have the opportunity of a good FREE eduction. Get rt lessons on line and you won’t. Want to cut your ear off!

Sometimes, the journey is an end in itself. Keep trying new and creative things!

(thanks for your lovely comment)

Belle – Ok, so I’m good at snow/fog/cloud! Yay! Go me. Maybe if I stick to snow scenes..hmmm- I should be at your house! You’re right I need some tuition and I’m going to get some 🙂

Clark – Exactly what good is physics in this situation? And thank you for your belief in my rioja-stained ability!

MAMTC – Yeah well she’s sorry now. I could have been in the TATE!

Mr Gorilla Bananas- GASP! Super Toad…Oh my gosh this takes me to a whole new level of talentless. I’m glad you liked my flower, what a sensitive gorilla you are.

Lynne – Yes BUT….can you really imagine me as a barrister? I would be a heartless, ball crushing, no prisoners kind of barrister which would make me….hmmm…. actually, most excellent at it! Damn!

Beth – That is so true Beth. I shall continue with my journey 😉 (You’re welcome.- you have great spirit)

Haha, I love this story! I totally sympathize with wanting to make art but being pushed by family to do ‘realistic’ things with your time (although my art is audio and not visual).

But yeah, art is hard, because art is pain. Good stuff though, following now!

Joe, you are so right, ART IS PAIN! I’m going to see what you do now 🙂

This is so funny, and a little too close to home. You remind me of… me. I’m great at beginning things and have all the social and motivational tools to get a project going, but once it’s off the ground I get b.o.r.e.d and then either abandon it or go about painfully completing it.

But you’ve done pretty well there. I’m not nearly as talented. I reckon you can open a gallery in addition to your shop 🙂

Couldn’t you stick some cellophane on it for a water effect? I know that’s a bit primary school.

Azra – Hello my kindred spirit! Thank you for the compliment! I think I’m going for abstract art now – it’s easier and even if it goes wrong it’s still abstract!

Tony – Sounds like a good idea to me. Primary school or not, if it works and takes less effort I’m all for it.

hi Jules, its been a long time since the netherlands.
i’m not sure you even like to remember this?

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