‘The 100’ #42 – Street Art with Text – Italy…

I have hung a copy of this piece above my work table since finding it on a wall in Siena, Italy. Its simple wording: “Energy plus Time equals Art” has reminded me of  what, until recently, I considered the essentials. Whenever I have been caught in the web of ennui the figure has lifted its megaphone to its lips and loudly declared into my reluctant ear that which I haven’t wanted to hear and I have reacted with renewed energy. But its message is lost on me now and I have put this photo away along with a small mountain of unfinished work – all that seems equally meaningless to me at this time.

This particular posting is timely because, as some of you have gently hinted and others may have noticed, I have not shared my own art for a while. I have been in a debilitating creative slump and nothing I do to alleviate it has worked. My paintings are not speaking to me – every brushstroke feels false, every colour I apply feels alien and amateurish and every shape, form and line I make appears ridiculous. I know we all go through this at times but that knowledge doesn’t help. I have at least a dozen pieces that I have started that scream out to be resolved. I turn my head. I look at this posted photo and its words and understand that I need to put time and energy into my work but also realize that this is no longer enough. There is another element not mentioned by this anonymous street artist – call it X, or magic or inspiration or self confidence – whatever it is, it is missing and I feel alone.

Writing about this helps me to objectify. I am disgusted to hear myself whinge while my life and health are good and I live like an aristocrat compared to millions of my brothers and sisters. But now it is out and now you know why I am not posting my art and maybe now I can open to the words of Vincent and others:

 “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

“There is no use trying,” said Alice. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” — Lewis Carroll

“So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”  — Brenda Ueland

I am away for a few days visiting friends on Vancouver Island to moodle and putter. Will post again on my return.

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


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36 thoughts on “‘The 100’ #42 – Street Art with Text – Italy…

  1. The plumber said to me today “I suppose you wait for inspiration”. No, I just work anyway. sometimes it catches up.
    It is disheartening. At these times you are your own toughest critic. You know all that, but you can talk yourself out of believing.
    Moodling and puttering sound just fine! Hopefully they will help turn off the judgements. Perhaps channel ephemeral gecko’s inner kid?

    1. As always, Philippa, your words are perceptive, inspiring and wise. I do know that I simply need to keep on working because often the muse needs to sleep.But when the working seems rote and meaningless then the ‘judgement’ creeps in. I hesitate to “channel ephemeral gecko’s inner kid” because doing that would open vast landscapes of pain that I can’t deal with right now. This present angst will pass and I just need to cultivate patience. Thank you for caring enough to comment…

      1. Extreme is right Philippa – I’m just back from my visit, and my friends and change of environment made me realize how extreme. Within my claustrophobic and solitary studio space it all seemed impossible – now I’m duly kicked up the metaphorical ass and am ready to work again…

  2. It’s passion. Passion is like the salt of the sea- it keeps all things afloat effortlessly, otherwise all your energy (and time) are need to keep the corporal weight from sinking – I suppose sometimes it is enough that we can tread water for a while…have a good putter.

  3. Perhaps visiting friends will help. A change of scenery is always good for the soul. I understand your block all too well. It’s not a good feeling at all. However, it will pass and something will ignite that spark and your creative fire will burn again.

    1. Thank you MG for taking the time to comment and support. Visiting friends always helps as does a change of scenery. I find that I am changing scenery and taking ‘creative breaks’ more often these days. My friends, I know, will give me a loving and metaphorical kick to my ancient ass and inform me that I am being way too self involved. They are right as you are right in saying that my “creative fire will burn again”…

  4. You and I both. I have an artist friend whom I deeply admire. He can do no wrong in my eyes and has been a wonderful mentor to me. Last week he confessed he is ‘dry’ and is considering taking a new art course in something he has not ventured into previously. Considering he is going through it and finding a possible solution has me feeling calmer about this disturbing non-productive time.

    1. Thanks Lesley, and I have been moodling around in the enchanted woods of creativity for enough eons of time to know that no one escapes this angst – your friend is an example. I should welcome being ‘dry’ in the usually rain soaked environment of Vancouver but I find it, as always to be frustrating. However, I know from experience that this will all change and this knowledge keeps me sane….

    1. You left out cartooning! Yes, you are right Carl – I am considering just this – perhaps I will vandalize the midnight streets of Vancouver with some yarn bombing 😉

  5. It doesn’t feel right to “like” this John but remember Love+art+nature = life.
    Stop trying so hard and don’t be so hard on yourself.
    If you are not married maybe you need to take a lover 😉
    I usually write when I am either falling in or out of love but seldom about love at all !

  6. I like the honesty in this post, as much as the wall art that you discovered along your journeys…its intent…and the way you’ve applied its few words to your life with art. I’ve struggled to paint as well…a longer period of time…and I have also felt some sense of shame around it. However, I think with artists, it’s important to ‘enter into the gyre/the dance’ and to journey through these times with great intention also. They are times…and there will be words that speak to you…and new paintings will be born. Be with this time and be gentle with yourself….this is energy of a different kind.

    1. Thanks Nicole – it was all just a passing dark cloud and my visit to friends away from my claustrophobic environment has helped to alleviate the worst of my dark contemplations…

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