While looking through my archive photographs over the weekend, I realised that I had gotten totally out of sync with showing you some of my work. The piece I am showing you today was made way back, in fact, it was made three house moves ago.
As I was saying to you before I can tell how long ago I have made each piece by what house I was living in at the time. This Snug was made in the early days. I can tell by the colours of wool I was using. I can see by her make up that I was still in the early days of experimentation. Everything about her says “Early Snug” to me.
Sometimes when I have made a lot of something, I have found that I feel tempted to disparage my early incarnations. I have talked warmly here of the First Fat Bee and our first Snug, Greg, but it’s not really the firsts that are the problem. It can be more the seconds, thirds and fourths that cause the real discomfort. It can be like the difficult second album for musicians. Everybody liked the first thing that you made but now how do you follow it up?
I have found the first idea to be so exhilarating. You get something into your head, your inspiration hits and you are moved to get out of your seat and to go and physically make something. I have experienced the feeling of being totally consumed by making a piece of art, happy hours of being “in the now”. Time can be gone in a flash. You can put on an album and without hearing anything the last song is playing and your favourite track has passed you by.
That kind of experience is what is so addictive about the creative process. That is what makes you compromise on some other material pleasures in life, the pursuit of creation itself.
Those days are wonderful. They are the kind of days you hope for when you take those first tentative steps to becoming an artist. But, alas, not every day is like this. On those days it feels like I have tuned into something bigger and I can run off that energy. My ego seems to take a back seat and I find I don’t question my decision making as much. I use my intuition with confidence and it shows in the final piece.
But that can be just the starting point for a whole collection of work I want to make. The challenge or difficulty after that is to continue making when the first flash of hedonistic inspiration is gone. I cannot live in a perpetual state of exhilaration; the cold light of day will eventually dawn. As an artist, I have found that one of my challenges is how to keep making after I move out of that first rush.
The problems can be one of confidence. I may start questioning the work. What came naturally in the beginning can now be over-analyzed and picked apart. In contrast, I may be so pleased with the first thing I made that I can’t imagine anything else being as good as it.
This is where the messy, plodding, uncomfortable and scary work begins. Consciousness, ego-interference, questioning and emotional baggage all come to the surface now to play their parts.
I think the success of these early pieces is that they get made. Their beauty lies in the risk it took to continue making something when it feels more challenging, when you have more to lose in terms of reputation and personal expectations. To keep making with the risk that it will turn out crap!
For the record, I don’t think this Snug is crap. I like her experimental knitted bustle and I’m proud of the bead work I did on her head piece. She is complete. Did I go on to make something more accomplished? Probably! But only because I made her first. I had to make and make and make in order to improve, improve and improve. The full story will never get told unless you keep on telling it.