Off your game?

Robert Genn

January 2, 2007

Dear Rodney,

On the last day of the year several collectors were in my
studio. They were looking to add to their collections or to buy
afterthought gifts. These were old friends, so the Scotch and
the laughs were important as well. But this sort of visitation
always brings back memories of former anxieties.

In the old days, in expectation of visitors, taking a day or so
to tidy up, I'd panic that I didn't have enough to show, that
my work was substandard, and that I was inadequate. It was then
that I'd renew my vows to show only through dealers. Struggling
with my neurotic distaste for being sized up, considered,
and--Gadzooks!--purchased, I destabilized myself. Quite an
admission for a born-again entrepreneur. Fact is, the presence
of visitors in the studio can be disturbing. It can put you off
your game.

Just as the professional golfer can lose concentration over a
remark or even a cough from the peanut gallery, artists can be
put off by the mere presence of others in a position to pass
judgment. However, it's good to realize that artists are always
being put off by one thing or another. My inbox is currently
loaded with exhaustive lists of all manner of personal
problems--from abject poverty to noisy neighbors. I'm sure,
upon reading this, artists will write and tell me of put-offs I
haven't yet thought of.

Long ago I realized that keeping an eye on the ball was a big
thing. For the self-directed creative person, maybe it's the
only thing. How could I allow a few interlopers to set back the
flow of my process? How could an artist allow any impediment to
sack her?

I've taught myself to recycle quickly. This requires
identifying the traps, a whack of self-understanding, and some
calculated self-coaching. I always knew it had nothing to do
with the visitors. It's in the head. The artist needs to take a
vacuum cleaner to that part of the anatomy. It's a matter of
shifting from one awareness to another. Run, don't walk.
Energetic cardio-vascular sets you up. Startlingly loud music
realigns the neurons. Through cacophony and sudden exercise,
the art-making is re-identified as the main continuum--as solid
and permanent as the pyramids. Further, a squeezed-out palette
before the guests arrive is eager to be used when they leave.
You're back on your game. "Was somebody here?"

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Art is a form of supremely delicate awareness--meaning
at-oneness, the state of being at one with the object." (D. H.
Lawrence)

Esoterica: Activity itself is the key to concentration.
Re-dedication to this principle brings art-awareness and the
blessings that ensue. Among the thousands of confidential New
Year's Resolutions coming in these days, the word "active,"
appears over and over. Artists are dedicating 2007 to more
activity. Activity flies right over the traps. With activity,
sensitivity is rebooted to bring joy to the hours. With
activity, the hours become miracles. We have 8,760 hours
waiting out there in 2007.