Each day I remember that I have a blog/non-blog type thing I think about deleting it. This temptation is strong some days. I'm not cool enough to have a blog. I'm old. My life consists of balancing the same old boring things yours consists of...a never ending series of repeated tasks interrupted by the occasional candy bar or belly laugh. And really, I just get tired of hearing myself sometimes.
Maybe there's the occasional sculpture preview or off the top of my head ramble that helps explain where my mind was while I was working on a new drawing and I can see how that might be interesting to me if I ran across it on an artist's website. But what about the goofy stories about my kids? And the cute kid photos? There’s not a parent on Earth who does not think their kids are just the cutest things on the planet but does that mean I should put those photos on here? I'm a fairly private individual so why would I put any of this in the public domain? Honestly, it bugs me. Even now the desire to delete is welling up in me. I’m not the kind of person who has a blog.
I blame my sketchbook. Actually, I could probably find a way to blame this blog on some of my professors at the undergraduate level. Many were vigilant about keeping a sketchbook and making entries almost like a journal or diary every day. They preached to us about how important it was to examine our lives and experiences in a way that would allow us to develop visual imagery invested with personal meaning. As I moved up through the higher level courses and the projects were less assignment driven and more independently designed I realized how useful this type of sketchbook could be. Looking back through my old sketchbooks it's easy to see that around this time my sketchbook entries started to expand and become more about me than my projects. A quick look back indicates I enjoyed drawing cows, the faces of the extremely elderly, and palmetto trees. I was interested in recording humorous things like a stranger falling down in public and the awkward internal war between wanting to laugh out loud and wanting to check to see if they were ok. Or the time some friends of mine began laughing uncontrollably at a very serious funeral. These were friends. Absolutely NOT me, let’s be clear about that. And there are several entries about the logistics of the full scale cow my roommates and I created in our apartment during our senior year. Apparently these "logistics" failed to include how we were going to get the cow out of the door without demolishing her.
The need to record thoughts and events increased at the graduate level. To maintain an ideal production level I needed a steady flow of ideas and my sketchbook was filled with good ones and bad ones. Mostly though, the sketchbook entries were professional instead of personal. Real life experiences and thoughts were only recorded if they afforded me the use of a specific image or idea. I was not recording freely; it was more calculated at that point.
I was told to read "Daybook" by the sculptor Anne Truitt in grad school. Truitt was a big time Minimalist sculptor in the 1960's and in addition to being a big time sculptor she was also a wife, a mother, and a teacher. "Daybook" reads like a journal where she captures summaries of normal days in her book as a way of documenting her thoughts and activities. It seems Truitt used this journaling technique as a way of kick-starting her ideas. The thing that stood out to me was that she didn't edit and capture only the important days and events or only the ridiculously hilarious things she witnessed, but rather she seemed intent on capturing and remembering the everyday events, the mundane and the commonplace things in her life.
The interesting thing is that Truitt did not seem to elevate her role as an artist above her role as a wife or mother or teacher. In fact, she seemed to understand that it was her life experience as a wife, mother, and teacher that gave her the ability to be an artist. Her entries support this idea as she records getting the children to school, taking a hike to a pond with her family, or her husband's latest work interest with the same zeal as she records visiting a gallery space or delivering her most recent sculpture for exhibit. Her life was balanced and each aspect of her life inspired the other.
The journal entries about her kids were just as important as the entries about famous art critics talking about her work. Both ideas were worthy of recording and both were important in understanding her development as an artist and in understanding the development of her work.
Perhaps what is more interesting is that Truitt understood the need for this information to be published to the general public. It was this publishing of private information that directly impacted how I handle my sketchbook and eventually led to this strange non-blog. So maybe that means I can blame her.
It would be cool if I could put up a front for you here. I could use this electronic sketchbook to pretend to give you a behind the scenes look at my creative process and inspirations. I could post pretentious images and articles about contemporary art and pretend to understand all of them. I could keep it strictly professional and give you the impression that my family, location, and sense of humor had no impact on my creative work. This would give you the idea that I was some enigmatic figure walking around behind a veil of artistic mystery and that petty, everyday things did not affect me because I was above it all.
I guess if I were a cool artist, that’s what I would do.
But the truth is I’m just a goofball from rural South Carolina who likes to make things and to pass ideas along to other people. One of my dogs is fat, I can’t stand vegetables or cold coffee, and my kids really are insanely cute. Like it or not, it’s these everyday things that provide me with ideas and somehow these everyday things seem much more interesting to me than pretense.
So I won’t delete it today. Instead here's a photo of the skinny dog with a bad attitude: