Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Art of Finding Yourself When You're Lost

Frank Hurley was an Australian photographer famous for his photos taken during a number of expeditions including those led by Mawson and Shackleton. Both expeditions suffered problems but Hurley used the "lostness" to concentrate on his photography. After he returned to civilization, he remained involved in photography and film but his legacy is entrenched in the images of Antarctica.

"If we are affluent enough today, we live amid a mounting glut of distracting choices, killing our time mulling over what food to eat, which clothes to wear or gadgets to buy, where to go on vacation. We can easily lose our way. When Hurley gained choices, he lost his focus. Wearing the same clothes, eating the same seal pemmican, staying in the same place, day in and day out, he was better able to concentrate on making the most with what he had at hand."

I totally understand this. I am in the midst of a creative crisis. When I get home, there are so many other things that will distract me from making art. Watching a movie, housework, blogging, reading and a myriad of other activities easily sway me away from making art. I need to learn a lesson from Frank Hurley. I need to get lost in my art and not let anything distract me. Alas, I don't have an Antarctic wilderness to keep me focussed. I'll have to come up with the discipline myself. And speaking of discipline, I recently read this statement from Chuck Close about how he works.

"My favorite analogy is a brick building. Stacked up one way the bricks make a cathedral, another way they become a gas station. Having a routine, knowing what to do, is crucial because I'm naturally lazy. A routine is what keeps me from going crazy. It's calming. My working methods are almost Zenlike, like raking gravel in a monastery."
So, a few months ago I had a routine. I would work from 8 until 2 and then come home and make art until Sarah got home. I got out of the habit and now I come home and waste time. I need to establish my routine again. Perhaps if I do, it will keep me from going crazy.

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

1 comment:

jon p. said...

good word. here's to getting "lost"!