Art and Risk – the Dynamic Duo

Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year
copyright, 2022, Molly Larson Cook
14″ x 11″
Acrylic on canvas

“Art, after all, rarely emerges from committees.”

This bit of wisdom comes from the opening paragraph of the section, “Fears About Others” in Bayles & Orland’s always spot-on book for artists, Art & Fear.

In a discussion about artists and “others” who include the critics, the public, family, friends, teachers, the lady down the street, and too often ourselves, Bayles & Orland go on to say:
” We carry real and imagined critics with us constantly–a veritable babble of voices, some remembered, some prophesied, and each eager to comment on all we do.”

Writer and teacher Anne Lamott of Bird by Bird fame calls that “veritable babble” what it is when she writes about the radio station writers have in their heads…a station that plays nonstop and comments on every word we write, rarely kindly. She calls it radio station KFKD. You can figure that one out.

Let’s be clear: Creative work is creative work. If you can repeat it time and again, you’re past the creative aspect. You can reproduce a piece of work as many times as your budget allows, but the original is the only bit of creative work.

Let’s be even clearer: Creative work is about taking risks. Some risks pay off and others do not. If a person can’t take risks, they’d be better off doing something other than creative work.

And to be as clear as I can be: Creative work does not only take place in an art studio or on a dance floor or in a rehearsal hall or on the page. The fellow who knows how to rig up a great fix for your car is doing creative work. The chef who makes a dynamite dinner is doing creative work. The floral designer who puts together spectacular arrangements is doing creative work.

I met a young dental assistant today (Who enjoys going to the dentist? Let’s not see all the same hands…) who told me she wished she was creative, but “I just don’t have it in me.” I suggested that her ability to figure out new and less painful ways to do her dental work was quite creative. And made my experience better than expected.

My partner, Michael, would never call himself an artist, but he’s brilliant at figuring out new answers to problems around the house and in our garden.

It’s hard enough to be creative with all those voices from KFKD banging around in our heads. The only way to turn them off is to take the risks, appreciate our own efforts, and keep working.

Part of it is about learning the techniques, but the bigger part is trusting ourselves and putting our emotions into our work, no matter what it is.

I leave you with another thought from Bayles & Orland:
“To the viewer, who has little emotional investment in how the work gets done, art made primarily to display technical virtuosity is often beautiful, striking, elegant…and vacant…Compared to other challenges, the ultimate shortcoming of technical problems is not that they’re hard, but that they’re easy…If technique were the core issue in art, our nominee for the Famous Artists Wax Museum would be the lifer at San Quentin who spent twenty years constructing a perfect replica of the Eiffel Tower from toothpicks.”

On a personal note: I’m happy to be back in the studio! My garden is coming along and inspiring me with colors every day. The little hydrangea I started from a cutting and nursed through the winter has a tiny bud. And we have strawberries. Keep the faith!

2 thoughts on “Art and Risk – the Dynamic Duo

  1. My dear…we had to move the dates of the show and it will now open July 20 and run through Labor Day weekend. Thank you for all your good thoughts coming my way.

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