As I got ready or the Open Studio, I went through boxes and drawers and unearthed a lot of old work although not as much as one might expect from 38 years. Over the years I got rid of a lot. Because I never sold much, there was often an accumulation. I found it discouraging. And so I would sort. If I didn't find feel that a piece had anything left to teach me, I would discard it. It did keep me moving forward. I never felt any obligation to the old work and so I was always free to explore new ideas.
Now, however, I wish I hadn't been quite so decisive. I would like to be able to look back at my years of work and see in greater detail how I developed as an artist. If I could give that old self some advice, I would say don't be so hasty. Draw back from whatever emotions are attached to the work—feelings of discouragement that no one wanted it, feelings of dissatisfaction with the work itself. Even though it seems hard to believe now, you may wish someday that there was an archive of your work.
This is a book I found in a drawer. It brings up another thing I would tell my old self: Date your work. This was done when I was doing a lot of experimenting with the photocopier which would make it late '80s/early '90s. The imagery is from grape vines placed on the copier. The text is mine.
The word stays with me.
I find myself naming the events of my life journeys & I see that my life itself is a journey.
In Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon talked about his father,
and his belief that any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he is going to get.
I have to keep reminding myself, it's the journey, the living, that's important, not the destination.
I should live the making of this work, and enjoy the journey.
Mostly I do.
But I worry about what comes next, where does this lead, what direction is my work taking.
I have to keep reminding myself.
And my take on the journey at 62 from Art Lessons: Reflections From An Artist's Life:
Here’s a frequent metaphor: life is a road, a journey, a path. I’ve used it often and taken comfort in the idea that the journey is more important than the destination. Now I want a new word, a new metaphor, or better yet, no metaphor at all. Journey implies destination and I see now there is no destination, no place to get to, in the artist’s life. Saying or doing anything that implies that there is only gets in the way. We need to stop seeking the “there.” We need to live and work in the “here,” to be present and alive in every moment, and to allow ourselves to “Take joy!”