I’m still buzzing with a WTF-just-happened creative exuberance the morning after.
Five hours last night, including dinner break with my family. Seventy-six (76) iconographic works, made from 5:36 p.m. to 10:36 p.m., an exactitude that was as unplanned as every other aspect of this singular evening of creative explosion. I just flowed through making these works one after another after another after another after …
One of them, I don’t recall which at the moment, dozens deep into the evening, gave me some trouble. I felt bogged down. I kept at it, aware of how so very long it was taking, how unflowy it felt compared to all that came before it. When I’d finished the piece and I checked the data in the Procreate app I was using to make these works on my iPad, it had taken me … 8 minutes.
Subtracting the unrushed time for dinner, and the time it took me to go get an extension cord and the iPad charging cord to reignite the flame when the iPad battery died, I must have averaged ~3.5 minutes per creation. No time to think, to let my brain and analyses get in the way. No time to plan or compare or strategically build upon previous works.
I just flowed, one after another after anoth– You understand.
The Subject Matter & the Whys of It
Cock and balls. That is the subject matter.
Several weeks ago, for reasons I don’t think I can recall, I told my wife I have a vague inclination to do a series that reinvents the classic juvenile graffiti sketch of cock and balls. I don’t know why. But maybe the recurring encounters I’ve been having with the work of women artists who are highlighting the female form, including genitalia, factored into it. These Instagram accounts come to mind: Carmel Jenkin, Hannah Moghbel, Suzanna Scott.
For those women and their artwork, I think there’s an empowerment in it. I appreciate that and urge them on from afar. And I don’t pretend that I’m attempting to explore the same level of depth or significance with this series I’m calling “Phallacies 76.”
So why cock-and-ball art? Well, there are a few things underlying this one evening of creative, uh, explosion. Like I said, I’d vaguely had the idea but I had no plan to whimsically spend a five-hour chunk of time on Sunday evening diving into this experience. And it has turned out to be an experience, one I’m still high on and stunned by. I’m grateful for it. I think it’s opened a portal to something brighter and more creatively expansive.
I’ve tried for years to identify visual work of my own within me that is simple, thoughtful and compelling. To me and maybe even to others. Just yesterday, during my regular morning journaling session (a la Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”), I was considering the iconographic artwork of Henrik Delehag, whose work I admire, and I was thinking that someone like him no doubt has spent years of developing his vision, skills, aesthetic, and career and life in art.
I can’t honestly say that I’ve earned my desire to uncover my personal vision of simple, thoughtful and compelling artwork. I’ve not put in the years of consistent work on it. I’ve been afraid and let Resistance (a la Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”) win too often. I’ve allowed myself to feel inhibited and I’ve played small. My bad. I am certain that Henrik and many other artists I respect (e.g. Lisa Congdon, Aythamy Armas, Gregg Deal, Cat Spillman) have put in the time and effort to come to where they are.
With Phallacies 76, I entered a creative exercise and was rewarded. All too often, I’m all too serious. With this, I took a playful subject and gave it a contemporary reimagining, frequently in abstract form. Actually, for the vast majority of these works, I suspect you wouldn’t know the base idea I’m using, if I wasn’t here telling you now.
I worked at speed to keep the mind out of the way of the process. I was curious, how might ideas evolve and morph as the works piled up? How might the images overlap and repeat in style? Where might this unthinking flow take me, creatively? Would I work myself into new ideas and/or new skills?
Simply … What would happen by tackling what turned out to be a 76-day art project (such things are popular for fostering consistency … 30-day, 100-day) in what turned out to be only five hours?
What came of it was an experience unlike any I’ve had. I went to bed, mind buzzing, ideas still flowing. I wouldn’t get to sleep for hours, and then I woke from restless sleep in the morning with my mind still vibrating (and tired).
This exercise has opened me up to a path I will explore with iconographic work that meets my interests in simplicity that also is compelling. And I’m confident it will take me somewhere and somewhere and somewhere.
Only hours ago, none of this was in my view. Today, I feel the glow of a creative breakthrough, and have a body of work to show for it. I probably will continue to explore and add to the Phallacies series, along with exploring other subject matter.
There’s only one (maybe two?) pieces in this series that I do not like, or at least didn’t last night. I felt it when it was happening. I was midway through and felt a lack of focus and energy for this particular effort. Instead of redoing it or continuing to work it over until I felt more satisfied, I kept plunging ahead with the series. I found a second wind and felt inspired to keep going until at least a couple more hours of work had accumulated.
I’d like to edit this series, cull that one piece at least. But I won’t. It’s part of the process. It might well have been a linchpin in the whole evening. When I became conscious of my fatigue, the strain in my neck and right shoulder, and lost my way a little with this one creative work, I found renewed energy and went on to make a lot more that I very much enjoyed making, and enjoy having made.
Note: Funnily enough, “Phallacies 34” doesn’t exist. In the rush and flow, I seemed to have lost count and jumped from 33 to 35. Part of the process. Serendipity changed the name to “76” vs. “75.” I’m rolling with it.
Here is the gallery: Phallacies 76. (Click on images to enlarge and swipe through full gallery.)