The other day, Matthew Landkammer posted a brief teaser titled "Inherent Aesthetics vs. Taste" (link) in which he asks: "So here’s the question: among an admittedly self-selecting group that already appreciates his work, how is it that one painting could garner such a consensus in the comments? Is there something inherent about this painting that makes it special — something separate from the aesthetic experience we bring to it?" He was referring to the most recent painting I posted two weeks ago (link). Since then, I have dreaded going down into the basement/crawlspace that is my studio.
"Working in a studio means leaving the clean world of normal life and moving into a shadowy domain where everything bears the marks of the singular obsession." (James Elkins). This does not mean that the studio itself is scary. The space may be untidy and cluttered, but that can be fixed with an afternoon of efficient puttering. What I am avoiding, for fear of failure I suppose, is something else. "Alchemy's lesson here is that everything actually takes place within the body. The insanity of the studio is that it is not architecture - it is not made of wood and cement - but it is nothing other than the inside of the body." (Elkins again).
I suspect I have been too hung up on the end result. This is an unfortunate side effect of mixing business with pleasure. I need to start doing again. Right? Who cares about the outcome of a painting? Its not what you do, its the way that you do it? And yet, I can't shake the feeling that our knowledge of the world is not completely derived from our experience.
As the panels that I am preparing to paint on are drying, I am reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry Aesthetic Judgment. The phone vibrates in my pocket, making me jump. I feel confused, if not guilty, about how I am spending my time. Imagine the perverse notion of taking the time to blog about that guilt. Thanks for visiting.
Before I go, I'd like to address the thing that I've been telling my students this week and is being reinforced over at Mary's blog, Never underestimate the value of your first step.