30 December 2020

'the greater the doubt, the greater the artist', maybe, hopefully

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 21 December, 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

I was speaking to an old friend yesterday, a long conversation via Messenger which has now become my go-to mode of communication.

She has been at work as an artist for about 40 years. In my mind she has always been a tireless worker, always at it, day and night, and yet a rich successful career has eluded her. 

"...you know Christopher, I have been working for 40 years now and it seems to me that I still don't know what I am doing!"

I laughed because I had heard this from her many times before. I told her that artists, writers, musicians, etc, etc, who cannot admit this sort of thing are probably not very good at all. An artist who never questions him/herself, who knows nothing of the gnawing doubt deep inside one's skin would surely make very insipid Art. But to work through it all is the key to a happy daily routine, in most cases, anyway. Moreover, Art doesn't generally come out of technical schools, it comes out of recess period between classes.

I often think this to myself:

'the greater the doubt, the greater the artist'.

But then, I quickly think that maybe this is dangerous ground, I should not be making such broad pronouncements. But I have read of great painters who have claimed that in their twilight years they have only  just begun to understand Painting even as their teeth and hair are falling out. Delacroix comes to mind.

Doubt can be a healthy thing in all things, even brain surgeons have loads of it except when they are deep at work inside the brain of human cosmos. The thing for me is that when I am working doubt usually disappears, and this is always the proof that the routine is everything.

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