I have not read 7 Days in the Art World, but did order it this morning.
The title set me going on a train of thought. A commuter train, more than anything else.
In the life of the writer, or the poet, there was little else besides the physical act of writing. Morning writing sessions would be interrupted by the need to eat. More than the need to eat was the fact of having to feed my working wife who would come home at noon, and so I would cook a plate of pasta each. Off she went in the afternoon, and up I went into my room to write some more to dinner time.
The only variance to this routine was I would often go for a walk along the beach or in piazza just before dinner. After dinner, I would normally read until I would simply fall asleep. Routinely, too, I would wake up in the middle of the night. I would hook up to my earplugs and listen to a podcast until I fell asleep again. Podcasts were downloaded from BBC – Bookclub, Play of the Week, The News Quiz – and shows hosted by Leonard Lopate and Brian Leher on WNYC.
In the morning, same routine.
Write, eat, write, walk, eat, read, sleep.
As a painter, it became even more intense and more exhausting. The physical act was, yes, more physically and sensorially engaging and all-encompassing.
Sourcing and carrying the fresh-cut wood panels I normally use, hauling them into the garage, and then one by one, into my Ivory tower – a veritable turret that is mostly pink externally with Ivory White cornerstones.
Opening jars, smelling the paints with those fantastically strange names as if they were book covers from faraway lands. Filling a ceramic hand-decorated bowl-like glass with water, balancing that up the stairs so as not to spill the water, choosing a brushing, feeling the hairs, squeezing paint from the tubes, mixing paint and colors, painting stroke after stroke, wiping brushes, washing brushes, tidying up after the morning session to stumble down the stairs, cook,set the table, wait for wife, eat with wife, speak to wife, wait for wife to leave, run up the stairs to turret, resume work and painting until just before dinner when I would need to go for a walk by the seaside until dinner time when, again, I would cook, engagé with spouse, and lie in bed as if in state.
From November to the present, this was largely the routine – except for a weekly 2-hour art class I attended only half the time, busy as I was painting, and when winter turned to spring, I would go for an hour-long swim which I thoroughly and immensely enjoyed.
I also managed to go to Bruxelles and London to see the art fairs, and as usual, found the cities more interesting than the art work presented at the fairs. (I also took a lot of pictures in London, in and around New Bond Street, some of which became paintings.) August I was on vacation and played full-time uncle, but as soon as my niece and nephews left, it was back to painting, back to the same old routine.
One thing I learned throughout this time and process: routine is good. Clear, well-defined, without alteration except for what this routine amounts to, its scope, aim, objective, produce: the painting, the art work.
Ah, two other significant kinks in the apparently seamless narration.
One, I mentioned in a previous post: I spent off-hours emailing galleries.
Two, hoping to gain some real insight, I read two excellent biographies: Patrick O’Brian’s Picasso and Hilary Spurling’s Matisse, the life, and Stone’s novels about Van Gogh and Michelangelo.
You see, I had studied Art History in college, but my reading was pretty much limited to novels, so I had looked foward to a number of eureka moments when reading the aforementioned books, but what I learned is the artist is mostly concerned with producing art, hoping it sells so he can pay the bills and keep producing art, and when he or she is not producing art, some bacchanalian moments never hurt, but in the end, all they want to do is get back to the drawing board to start again on that same old glorious routine, why the true no BS biography of any artist is no more than a book containing pictures of their collected works in chronological order.
Or the actual stuff, the art, the embodiment of every hope, dream, nightmare, heartbreak, anxiety, thought, sentiment, allure, love affair, shame, and secretion of the artist.
This is me. Questo sono io. Ca, c’est moi.
The rest is about you, mon lecteur.