Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jackson Pollock, Jack White, Neil Young, Susan Powter & Marcel Duchamp

Every artist has times when the Muse takes a sabbatical.
I often think about Jackson Pollock's downward, alcohol-fueled spiral after his wildly successful "drip" (action) paintings. In my youth, I never understood how Pollock's once-upon-a-time brilliance could be dimmed, and ultimately extinguished.
As I fumble around my studio these days, the answer to my Pollock pondering comes to me in one word - fear. I theorize that Pollock was afraid that his post-action work would not be 'as good'. His solution? Don't produce any work and dull the creative flow with massive quantities of alcohol.
After incredible success, Pollock was unable to complete any artwork for many years until his fatal car crash.
Today, I think I understand Pollock's fear.
I often remedy my own fear of failure by observing Jack White and Neil Young, two artists who take risks by creating unique, sometimes quirky, not always sure-fire, successful pieces. Their inspiration to me lies in the fact that both of these musicians keep creating, despite commercial constraints. To my ears, both White and Young sound fresh, youthful, fearless! And when they get it right - well....words cannot paint that sound or capture that feeling.
Lesson to me? Do not fear failing - fear the times you do not even try.
Susan Powter has written this: "Motivation is in the process of doing". I have this 'just do it' nugget posted in 3 places of my home and my studio. 
Then again, a good game of chess may be a much-needed distraction from the studio. Consider Marcel Duchamp, the famous Surrealist, who declared that he was retiring from the avant garde. He announced that he wanted to play chess for the rest of his life.
Now, that move took courage.
(Above photo is a candelabra created for Mr. & Mrs. Bill Fitzgibbons at request of Mr. Creighton Michael; Brass, copper; ca. 1984)


  1. great blog, and how true. fear not, and godspeed.

  2. Well stated and meaningful! It makes one stop and think of why they did not do something st least. Step out of your comfort zone and do not be afraid of new challenges. At least you tried!

  3. While I haven't the faintest clue as to what this post is all about, I congratulate you on your new endeavour. May this venue serve you to the fullest degree in expressing your artistic views!

    Peace and love :)

  4. Great blog indeed. Knowing how talented you are it is hard to believe that fear of failure would hinder you. There I go forgetting how human we all are. Inspirational and great food for thought.

  5. Thanks for all of your comments. I look forward to more! Be inspired today.

  6. Got an email from Marty Roth, rhythm guitarist/songwriter/vocalist of the late 1960s Canadian psych band Bent Wind requesting the usage of my review of their lp Sussex in marketing both Sussex and their newer 2 cd set the Lost Ryerson Tapes. Also, got an email from Brian Godding of the Blossom Toes and BB Blunder, 2 great British psych bands, thanking me for my "heart warming" review of their latest releases. These musicians seem so incredibly talented to me it is difficult to believe that they would feel unworthy of kind words regarding their work. Truly shows how human we all are. I hope lots of people find their way to this blog and post comments. Dave Mitchell, lead guitarist of the legendary Texas band Josefus just emailed to discuss the cd debut of the band's 1990 release "Son of Dead Man." The common thread among all these correspondences, FEAR. What a wonderful forum for sharing. While none of these musicians have the fortune or fame of Jack White or Neil Young, their talent is unquestionable and they deserve much wider audiences. Oh, and by the way Jack has always said one of his biggest influences is the British two piece band, Tractor, with Jim Milne on guitar, bass, and vocals and Steve Clayton on drums, bass, and vocals. They have numerous cds out and are still active. Check them out!

  7. I think there is a lot of Jackson Pollack in all of us. Fear of failure no doubt scrams out for the numbing of alcohol or other chemicals. You have certainly struck a nerve with me. I have long wondered why so many musicians ask to use snippets of my reviews for their advertising. Now I get it. They really don't understand how talented they are and my words bring them hope or at least validation for their efforts. When my reviews are positive, that is.