A long time ago, in 1997, I wanted to write better poetry. I would regularly get together after school with my friend Kevin Vincent. We would go to the grocery store and buy a few apples, and some limes. Then we’d go to my house, eat the apples, chew on the sour limes, and compare our poems.
My poems were always gaudy. Full of words I had found in a thesaurus, but didn’t really know the meanings of. I was trying to write poems that would change the world, and as a result they have all, mercifully, been lost forever. I was constantly trying too hard—it showed.
Meanwhile, Kevin’s poems seemed real, succinct, and important, without seeming like he was trying to compensate for something.
One of those days, as I was moaning on about my lack of skill, he told me that he had been to a writer’s camp that past summer, and there was a drill they taught him in which everyone wrote without caring about the results. Don’t write because you want to make something that will be perfect, just spend some time writing crap. It didn’t matter if they were terrible, just write. Hell, it could just be stream of consciousness. The point wasn’t to make a wonderful poem, the point was to unburden myself.
So I did. I didn’t quite fill up the notebook that week, but I did write a lot of poems, and they were awful. I made a bunch awful poems, but I also unburdened myself. I didn’t feel like I had to write perfect poetry any more.
Tonight, I realized my paintings are shackled by a similar burden. I know I’m not that good yet, and I’m trying really hard to be good. Every time I paint I’m somewhat burdened by the idea that I’ll share it here, and on Instagram and Reddit… and it adds a lot of pressure to the creative act. Suddenly, there’s some – I don’t know – pressure to make a painting that will get plenty of upvotes, likes, or thumbs ups.
So tonight, I just sat down and painted. I wasn’t thinking about Reddit or FB or IG, I was just thinking about the painting.
So tonight, I decided to try the same strategy with paintings. I won’t bother to comment on them, that’s not the point tonight. The point tonight is to try to simplify and unburden my paintings. My goal is to just paint.
Well, that’s it I guess.