If it's Wednesday AND it's November, Small Works must be going crazy.

I get a little worked up
about things like shows. . .

In fact, today I'm going to share with you a

Small Works Little Known Secret.

When I reveal it, you may say "Susan -- it's funny that you think it's a secret!" but I'm going to humor myself by pretending that only those in my inner circle have actual knowledge regarding the issue:

I am a nut case.
Completely wack-o.

(I'm happy
to confirm
that diagnosis.)

You may have suspected there was something a little off, but let me make sure you understand that  
if neuroses were people,
I'd be China.

I'm not, however, going to offer a specific list, because at Small Works we like to encourage the use of your imagination.

Now I'll excuse you all for a moment
to whisper behind my back . . .


But we can all take heart, Dear Reader, because it turns out that the old adage I have oft repeated to my children is true:

Genius is touched with Madness.

(Actually, I believe the quote is "There is no great genius without some touch of madness." But my version sounds a little less pretentious.)

What greater authority is there than the op-ed page in the newspaper, after all? So imagine my delight when this illustration by my old favorite L.K. Hanson turned up there:

"You Don't Say," L.K. Hanson

Please do not misunderstand --
This post is not to say that I am a genius.

I do take comfort in the fact, however, that my madness may someday prove to have been a pre-cursor to genius.

I mean, if one is crazy might not one assume that one has the potential to be great as well?

Director David Cronenberg said:

"Everybody's a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We're all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos."

I'll drink to that.

Lindsay and I were having a conversation about working styles the other day, and we both agreed that much of our work takes place in our (wracked) brains.

We think A LOT before anything else happens.

She told me that in art school, her professors used to be frustrated by her process. They would ask, "But what are you working on?" because the other students were turning out studies and sketches. Lindsay was turning them out too, but she was doing it in her brain. As she explained to me, "Then when I do something, it comes out complete. All the glitches have already been worked through."

That's it! Me too! (Which may actually be a manifestation of some perfectionist neurosis, but for the purposes of this essay let's call it a "personal working style.")

Anyway, we will call sketches and models and studies "thinking out loud," and then we will call stewing and pondering, worrying and puzzling "working in your head."

I think Alexander Hamilton and I
could have had a conversation on this point.

A.H. said: "Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have lies in this; when I have a subject in hand, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the effort I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought."

I've been thinking about this 

-- the fruit of labor and thought --

as I've been involved in creating my new collage work, Small Works' Conversation Pieces. It feels as if I've been working on them forever, when actually, compared to my fabric pieces, they require much less time.

But the figuring it out!

The logistics of adhesives and printers, papers and mounting techniques, new dimensions and a new style of framing and on and on and on . . . I'm exhausted from it all!

And as soon as the frame shop calls
to tell me my mats are ready,
I'll begin actually assembling them. . .


You haven't
started to put
them together yet?
Susan, what have you
been working on?

Trust me,
I've been
in my head.

(But enough about me. What about you?
Do you "think out loud"
or do you tie your noggin in knots?)


VO said...

I work it out in my head but usually what works in my brain doesn't always work in practice. I'll create it and then I'm not happy with it. I'll either take it apart and try again (sometimes with the exact same results) or I leave it alone and never return to it again (I'll show it, that it has no power over me, I'll just ignore it).

I think I'd have to boil it down to 90% of the time I think it,90% of the time I just do it. And only 10% of either method actually works.

btw, welcome to my world where I can have 90% and 90%.

Amelia and Justin said...

I spend a lot of time thinking things through before putting them on paper (or in silver, as is the case with jewelry), but more often than not, like VO, it doesn't work in practice.

I have a bad habit of leaving things that I have gotten frustrated with unfinished. If it didn't go as planned I stash it away. But then, when I come back to it (sometimes years later) I'm able to complete the original idea within minutes or hours. I've learned in my composition classes that the time I spend ignoring my projects my unconscious is working out the kinks I didn't originally anticipate.

Daryl said...

Personally I prefer to "Sleep on it..." If I have it all worked out before I start, then I don't push myself to blaze new trails when it isn't working or I don't know where to head next. And then I "Sleep on it" and by morning, I have a very clear idea of the direction I should take, even if it is switching the direction I thought was fine the night before. Each piece is a new adventure into uncharted waters...

Allie said...

Now this seems to me an absolutely profound way to work. No surprises. Me, I just dive in and make it up as I go. Sometimes that makes for not so nice surprises.

luanne said...

i'm still completely preoccupied by that picture of you as the timid little mouse/girl on the sofa in the corner of your parents' room a few posts ago. i can so relate to that, even though our house was not nearly so grand...

the process of creating artwork is something i rarely think about, but it seems like usually an image forms in my brain, and then i construct it.

just thinking about this process of how one creates makes me fairly dizzy!

p.s. if i can figure out any way to come to the show schedule-wise, i will... keep you posted!

Judy said...

It's okay to go crazy. Someone (not me) said something like:
"Crazy people who create are called geniuses. Crazy people who are rich known as eccentric. Crazy people who neither create nor are rich are considered just plain crazy."
None of those are TOO bad.

susan m hinckley said...

VO: I've dreamed of a world where I can have 90% of everything.

Amelia: You should see my "unfinished collection."

Daryl: "Sleeping on it" has never worked for me because it really means "staring at the ceiling on it."

Allie: I don't think it's really profound -- I think it's fearful, which is probably the opposite of profound. And people like you probably actually accomplish much more than people like me. I often wish I could allow myself to just dive in! Perhaps the grass is always greener in the other creator's lawn . . .

LuAnne: REALLY??!! My day just got a lot better! A friendly face at a show is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Judy: I've got the crazy without being a genius. I've got the eccentric without being rich. I'm afraid that may put me in the third category . . . but I'm not giving up hope entirely on the other two (especially the rich one!)

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