I’ll call you in 15 minutes
Studio time is like being suspended in a long ship at the edge of a black hole (yes…I am a huge Dr. Who fan for those that got that reference). Danny would leave for work at 6:00 AM, “I’ll call you in 15 minutes”. He makes his call at 12:00 noon. “Its 15 minutes you need to eat now!” He gets me and Yes Studio time is different.
I often am told I am a very intense person. Soooo serious about my art that my friend and mentor Clint Hamilton used to introduce me at shows with “she gets right to God and Death” “Enjoy”
Artists in popular myth are portrayed as eccentric, odd, and very, very intense. It is said they see things differently. That it is by some sort of alchemy that they do what they do. Fiction or fact? For me it feels like fact. No matter, good story.
I told my mother I was going to be an artist at 5. What does a 5 year old think an artist is? I have no idea, but I was a very serious child. By 11 or 12 I had this romantic idea of the suffering artist. All the stories I read seemed to convey all the great artists suffered. And who were my artists? Poe and Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Goya. They all died young and they were amazing! I would lie awake at night and think “If I want to be a real artist, I must suffer.” Ah teen angst. This is also about the time I started to believe I would die before I was thirty…..which I also told my mother … as I was - a very serious child. Let me just say that when I turned 30 and I was still alive, well it was a bit anticlimactic and quite frankly embarrassing. Friends I hadn’t seen in ages checked in with wow …still alive? They actually threw me a party; all the balloons and plates were black. And I was left with “ ah well, keep painting”.
Which brings me to the great realization:
I am very serious….. but I’m just kinda goofy.
And maybe I think, maybe that’s ok.
Art is a drug: Conversations with the Mockingbird
Mutability – 1. Liable or subject to change. 2. Given to changing; fickle or inconstant.
Like returning to a place, returning to a painting again and again trying to understand that each time it is different because you have changed. Even if only a few minutes have pasted your place in the universe is not the same. The impressions from the moment before have changed everything in front of you now. The light has changed, the way you hold the object has altered. Your mood has changed.
And so what if you choose to let go of everything that anchors you to the reality of a subject. The reliability of this is a tree.
Or that is an eye. This is up and this is down. How then do you begin to paint? What if you abandon any notion of exactly what you are painting and instead STOP ……. And LISTEN to the conversation inside your head. You focus on the immediate impression of color. You imagine seeing the canvas from the inside looking back at you.
What does a line say? How do you hold it under pressure and lay it down. How does the tension of the slightest move toward horizon change the feel of that pressure? When is it calm and when does it scream? Each change, each layer, each subtle manipulation is the conversation you are having.
I move pattern around. I allow a form to consume me, change me, and drive me towards a destination unknown. The process is birth and death simultaneously.
Some days I move forward, some days I feel like I have utterly failed. It’s frustrating and it is euphoric and I cannot imagine wanting to do anything else. Unlike other endeavors in my life; it holds me.
Art is a powerful drug. It can kill you and it can heal you but I know more than anything that it will
YaeL Kelley lives and works at her studio in the Artist Enclave of historic Kenwood in St. Petersburg, Florida. Petersburg, Florida.