art

Editing the Image of an Artist

One of my greatest pet peeves is the way artists are portrayed in movies. I’m not even talking about the consistent characterization of artists as bitter, emotionally distant, often abusive alcoholics. I’m talking about the way art is made in movies. In a spark of creative passion, the artist character, always with mad eyes and frizzy hair, stays up all night and completes a novel, painting or song.

I almost walked out of the theater during this scene of The Words when the character stays up all night writing his novel. One pack of cigarettes later, he comes up with a masterpiece that takes the literary world by storm and he never even picked up a bottle of White Out. Come on!

What these movies seem to forget is that art is work. Sometimes there is a spark of inspiration, but it is followed by long hours, weeks, months or years of hard work and self-doubt. Yes, there was one time I had a brilliant idea and stayed up all night writing it down, but that was two years ago, and since then I’ve written four versions of it and I’ve done countless edits (see the picture below). This part of the process would be too boring for a movie.

A random sample of the edits I make on a draft.

A random sample of the edits I made on that draft.

These movies do art a disservice. They marginalize the effort it takes to make great work. I wish just once, a movie would show an artist as someone who stares at her computer for hours on end, someone who takes classes to improve his craft, someone who reads over a sentence twenty times and then ends up deleting it. I know it wouldn’t be as interesting to watch, but I know a lot of artists who would enjoy it.

So now I leave you with a scene that helped me realize how ridiculous art scenes are in movies:

Should I advertise?

Main building at the Maryland Institute Colleg...

Main building at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I studied art at Maryland Institute College of Art, the biggest insult you could say about an artist was that s/he was “too commercial.” The thought of someone actually getting paid for their handwork and creativity seemed to contradict the very nature of art. We were all supposed to starve and wallow in obscurity for the next fifty years. The only acceptable way to become famous was postmortem.

Seven years out of college (oy has it really been that long!), I’m amazed by my friends who have found work that involves some sort of creativity. It doesn’t matter that they’re making art for commercial sake, in fact, it seems even more incredible that they are making good money expressing themselves.  My classmates are making jewelry, designing video games, and photographing models for national magazines. I look back on our snobby, self-righteous younger-selves and wonder how we could ever be so judgmental of people who love art but don’t want to be homeless.

Recently I’ve been approached by a few companies who want to advertise on my blog. When I originally started the HeSoProject, I was so ignorant about the entire blogging process that I figured I would write a few posts, and then live off the advertisement money. Ha! If these companies had approached me back then I would have said yes in a heartbeat. Now, two years into it, I’m slightly hesitant. The HeSoProject is my baby, and I don’t want to dilute it with distracting, false messages. (Currently WordPress puts up ads at the bottom of some posts, but that doesn’t really bother me because it’s part of the free service.)

My inner-college student is yelling “don’t sell out,” but my dwindling bank account is a little louder. Do you, my awesome reader, have any thoughts on the matter?

I’m a liar

OK just a few posts ago I went on on about the advantages of being alone. How it hightens the senses, builds character, pushes you out of your comfort zone. Well Mother Nature must have read my post and thought to herself, “oh really, Tracy? You love being alone? Alright then I´ll put a hurricane in New York of all places so that your boyfriend won´t be able to meet you on time, and you´ll get lots of extra time alone.”

First off, I hope everyone is safe in New York and New Jersey (yes, I care about New Jersians too) and that there isn´t extreme damage. I know people are getting effected far worse then I am, but this is my blog and if I can´t be self-absorbed here, where can I be? Just when I was starting to think I would go crazy being alone for another day, and the only thing that was cheering me up was thinking I would see Mike soon, I find out that no planes are leaving the northeast coast. I go out to dinner and I´m surrounded by loving couples spoon feeding each other and I just want to smack them. I´m remembering what it was like to be single.

I left Salamanca yesterday and arrived in Madrid around 5. It´s a great city, but I don´t think I´m giving it much of a chance because I´m walking aroung with a cloud over my head. I was supposed to meet Mike Sunday morning and then we would go to San Sebastian together. Since he won´t be arriving until the day we were supposed to leave San Sebastian, I guess that´s off. I could go alone, but I´m tired of doing romantic things alone. Drinking a bottle of wine is romantic when your with your boyfriend, but it´s just sad when you´re by yourself. I want to be angry at someone. It be so much easier to curse someone off, but it´s just nature, and you can´t get angry about that. Or at least it´s pointless. Damn you wind and rain!

That said, at least I learned something about myself. As much as I love traveling, I prefer being with people I love. If a genie said, ¨I´ll give you $10,000 so you can travel around Asia by yourself right now, or I´ll let you have one night to snuggle up watching Dexter with Mike.¨ I think I´d have to take the latter.

Well I´m sure I´ll be in a better mood soon. Sorry for whining.

I´m staying at the Cat´s Hostel which is the quintessential hostel. My room has 14 other people. Everyone´s here to party and get laid. I don´t know where they´re expecting to get laid when there´s only bunk beds and your neighbors are about 6 inches away from you, but perhaps they´re more creative than I am. The hostel is a converted arabic style mansion from the 1800s, so there´s an amazing central area (I´m forgetting my architectural terms) with a fountain and original tile. Right now I´m typing in the dungeon. I assume it´s an old wine cellar but the walls are painted black and there´s a low vaulted ceiling.

Yesterday I went to the Prado. It was amazing to see Las Meninas and Garden of Earthly Delights in person. Also Caravaggio´s The Decension was there on loan. I think it´s really strange how people look at paintings from a distance. I´m always standing as close as possible to see the brush strokes and what colors the artists used, and the different techniques. I´m the person the guard is always yelling at to step away from the painting. But you can´t see all those details in a textbook. In one the paintings of a bunch of saints, one of the saints looked exactly like Robert Downey Jr. It makes me think that he was indeed a Saint, and he sold his soul to the devil to be a famous actor for all of eternity. Think about it, Iron Man would have ruined any thesbian´s career, and yet, he pulled it off somehow. He´s had more comebacks than, well, I don´t know. hmmm.

Well this gave me a story idea, so afterward I went to a cafe and wrote 20 pages of the outline. Yes, I was drinking red wine, yes, the streets were coblestone, and yes, there were people next to me smoking and philosophizing, so I guess I had a pretty European evening.