Finishing a manuscript—or any other long/large creative project—is a process and when it’s over there’s a strange emptiness. I think the best way to describe it is an artist’s version of postpartum blues. My case of post ARTum blues is finally lifting.
What was my therapeutic Rx? Just a little of this and a little of that.
The most effective therapy was a big ‘art fix’ at the Museum of Modern Art where I took in the mammoth Picasso sculpture show, and the exhibit on the evolution of Jackson Pollock’s work, followed by a waltz through the museum’s current contemporary installations. A couple of rooms into the Picasso show and I found the initial threads of a story. It wasn’t about the objects on exhibit, but somehow the voice of the narrative was hovering around. I pulled out my notebook and jotted down a dialog that could open a story. It felt good to pull a snatch of conversation out of the air while wondering around.
When I got to the Jackson Pollock exhibit, the train of thought was chugging away. Before his famous splatter paintings, Pollock’s studied with the Mexican mural painter Orozco and was influenced by Jung’s archetypes. In other words, his road to abstractions was filled with figures and hidden in the nests of artful blobs, streams and drips there are figures—or suggestions of almost coherent images.
A gentleman standing beside me said, “I see two people dancing in this one.” And I replied, “I always see figures dancing in a Pollock.” He smiled.
It’s true. I do see figures dancing and stories evolving in the web and fog of lines and squiggles. The fact that one of the engravings actually featured two figures dancing around a fire, reinforced my search for more than figures… I’m looking for a narrative.
This is where I always wind up in trouble. My story-making brain isn’t satisfied with abstractions. Nope. I make stories out of thin air—and hazy outlines and squiggles of paint and shadows and often in art that is purposefully abstract and lacking in narrative. This has led to a few arguments with fans of story-free modern dance, ‘pure’ abstract paintings and everything else that eschews a plot.
Here we go again… it’s story time.