Wednesday, July 30, 2008

growing vs. growing up

From an interview of the great Jules Feiffer I've culled some of his thoughts on letting your work grow and develop:

"What happens, happens, and it happens outside the brain. Over the years, I discovered over and over again that once you lose control, you have a chance of getting good at it. And once you’re controlling the work, it’s not going to be very good, or it won’t be as good as it should be."

He continues:

"I was floundering, but I was happily floundering. I felt no sense of crisis. I was in my playpen. Throwing around stuff, and happy as a clam. Each week, it seemed for a while, I was trying something else."

I've been aware my unwillingness to get a style and stick with it, but for me the journey of experimentation and discovery provides much of the satisfaction I get through my work.

... And of course I AM in this for the fun.

Monday, July 28, 2008

up, up and away

When I was 3 or 4 years old, with all the boldness that the innocent possess, I dashed into my closet, donned my Superman outfit, and jumped out of my bedroom window.

I don't remember now, 40-some years later, how I dealt with the disappointment I must have felt along with the bruises.

This morning I sent to HarperCollins some sketches and a layout for a prospective book. I don't think there's a whit of difference in how I felt sending off that email than the trepidation, elation and confidence I had leaping out the window.

(That my email makes the same noise when sending that Superman made while flying was not lost on me either.)

I like my rather bold and daring efforts for this book, and would absolutely love to get the project, but until I hear back from the art director and editor, I don't know whether I'm really flying or not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

challenging serenity

In Tran Anh Hung's quietly disturbing film, 'The Vertical Ray of the Sun' one of the characters, a photographer, speaks of seeking tranquility in his work. That sounds nice, doesn't it? Tranquility?

The American artist Wolf Kahn warns us to resist getting too serene though, saying: "The moment you know how to do certain things, you should stop doing them. you would be ceasing to search and starting to perform... your art will become an exercise in self-congratulation."

I think of this now as I push my work to new boundaries for me. I would love to have the process of creating be calmly satisfying. But I know I would get bored rather quickly without challenging myself.

And perhaps agonizing and uncertainty are inseparable from the satisfaction that comes of conquering difficulties.

Besides, tranquility sounds a little too much like tranquilized.

Oh, well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

idle thinking

Otium cum dignitate, wrote Cicero; leisure with dignity, believing that the condition of not being insanely busy was necessary for producing art and literature.

Currently I'm insanely busy producing art and literature.

I've been given a commission to create some exploratory art for a new children's book. The revisions I'm working on for my current book are due at the same time. I'm also trying to write 2 books of my own.

Not a trace of the idle time required by that Roman fathead for making great art, so my brain has found it for me. I've been waking up at 2 in the morning for the last few nights (when my brain should be idle,) with all sorts of ideas for this latest book. Scrambling around in the dark for a pencil and paper, stubbing my toe, making noise, loving the ideas.

Friday, July 11, 2008

sweat from my brow

Years ago, as I picked up my tired little daughter from pre-school, I asked her how her day went.

"We did art," she sighed. "It was tufficult."

I remember that now as I'm working on revisions to the 80 page book for HarperCollins I'm illustrating. I'm embarassed to admit it, but sometimes drawing cartoons can be tufficult.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

good advice not followed

A beautiful day here. My daughter is being a cat in the garden and I am inside working.

Another quote from the incomparable Lin Yutang:

"If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

happy birthday

Time to celebrate the birth of our Granfalloon! Have a sane, safe and happy 4th everyone!

In case anyone was wondering how old I was, here's a picture of my brother and I during the Revolutionary War. I'm on the left.