I was reading recently a short book about a painter named Nat Tate who rounded up and burnt almost his entire output of art works. Four days later he jumped to his death from the Staten Island Ferry.
To have reached that place of suicide, it could be surmised was somehow linked to his abhorrence of the idea of only being a mediocre artist, or so the book would suggest.
As an artist my self-worth is not bound up or dependant on my ability to produce immaculate pieces of art.
As a Christian I am free from a warped sensibility that demands of myself that I achieve through oppressive perfectionism, a standard that I know is beyond me.
My self-acceptance is based on received forgiveness. If Jesus forgives me – then…
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
This gives me the freedom, to not take myself too seriously or to strive after a place of superiority over others in the work I produce.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
This scripture tells me not to think too highly of myself (or too lowly, by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t tell me to do so…) but what it does tell me is to think soberly…
So I try to do this. This also frees me to think of my work in a way that some might consider flippant.
Of course I think I have something unique to offer. But doesn’t everyone?
For me, a painting is successful if I know in myself I have rounded it off in a way that has brought the intuitive balance that my internal perception has been reaching for.
If that makes sense.(?)
I am aware of my limitations technically, and indeed in the traditional sense, harking back to the academic principles of art- making – I’m afraid I fall short, when measured by this yard stick.
I accept that I am a one-trick pony.
As a result of this I hardly ever destroy a piece of work. And as I am the only one on the panel of judges – I rarely censor or dismiss any of my paintings, or disqualify them from inclusion in the exhibition of my internal gallery show.
However the exception proves the rule – and the above painting no longer exists.
I have forgotten exactly what happened to it. Did I paint over it, give it away, leave it with another painting in a house that was demolished many years ago? I don’t know, but it no longer exists.
The painting’s ‘style’ should – look like – the room depicted in it. Half way through decoration. (Notice the scraped wallpapered walls and the distemper colouring that appears revealing the original cheap covering used during the second world war).
But notice also – Sparky! The only pet we had, when I was growing up. Sparky the budgerigar. The best talker in the country. Trained by my dear mother. Speaking out – it’s home address, nursery rhymes, “Where’s Jack today?” And many other repetitions of mum’s voice.
A great little bird – place your lips at the front of the cage against the wire, and Sparky would place it’s beak against your mouth and kiss you while chirping merrily!
Sparky took a growth on it’s beak, and died in my uncle’s hand when he was cutting her nails.
This painting shows Sparky in the act of lip kissing.
But every artist has destroyed pieces of their work at some time. Be cautious about doing so.
I remember being dis-satisfied with one particular watercolour, I took it from the drawing board, and rejected it by folding it up, placing it out of sight in the corner of my workspace.
Many weeks later I pulled it out again and scratched my head in dismay, with regard to why I found it unacceptable. Because now I was quite pleased with it. Unfortunately it had crease
marks ‘ruining’ it.
So my wife came to the rescue and ironed out the marks. I framed it, and it sold in an exhibition I was contributing to.