Third installment of a series from Peter Clothier’s book:
WHAT TO SAY When There’s Nothing to Say
Teaching at the graduate level, I’m often comforted with artists trying to find their own artistic voice and style. The path is never simple or easy but often complicated and difficult. At some point, the artist must come to the realization that they are living in a moment and accept reality. For example: “I’m applying paint to a canvas. I’m observing the veins in a leaf. In this moment, I’m experiencing life.”
Clothier: “…I have several mental strategies I deploy to get back into the process of creation. Because that’s what it’s about: creative work is never about saying something. It’s about process.” Can art only be about process? Or is it just “happy accidents”? Art is recording a moment in time.
“The more honest truth is that it’s impossible not to have anything to say” Clothier declares. Every act, action or communication creates a dialogue. It will be judged but does it matter? Artists resign themselves that we must do the art to survive. For our family, loved ones or friends it can be a notion to tolerate us.
THE BANDAGE PLACE Confessions of a Recovering Intellectual
According to Clothier: “Keep your eyes on the bandaged place. In creative work– for me, particularly, in writing-I understand this to mean probing into those areas where we are most exposed and vulnerable.” For artists, these are areas we want to ignore, avoid and not acknowledge. Why? Because it’s a difficult place to visit and be honest. What are at the roots of your psyche to make you become an artist? All good questions to ask.
Clothier: ”Why do we do what we do in a world that is increasingly inhospitable to the work of all but a fortunate few?” Artists tell me they want to make lots of money and obtain fame but in reality that normally doesn’t happen. Is their goal really to be an artist?
Part of the process includes being aware of what holds artists back. That includes childhood experiences, judgments, fears and self-doubt. Clothier believes that something will trigger these thoughts but keep faith that silence is a source of power during those times.
What is your bandaged place?