Talking with Artists about Art

Something’s in the air around me lately such that I keep finding myself talking with artists about problems and issues related to the actual act of doing art. Over the past month, I’ve thought about the particular concerns that come up when you collaborate with another artist on a long-term basis. I’ve commiserated with others over the different kinds of artist friends you can have. (Those you can count on to do work and to support your work, and those you can only count on for drinks, basically.) I’ve talked with a lot of people about the need to promote one’s art and how that differs/detracts from creating it. The two main art-related subjects I focus on, habitually, are art for profit vs art for art’s sake, and finding inspiration vs forcing yourself to work.

While talking about this stuff with other people, I began thinking about famous dead artists and what we know about their work habits. Do we know anything? I haven’t read any biographies on famous dead artists lately, but nothing in popular culture comes to mind. I know that Van Gogh cut off his ear, but I don’t know if/how he used caffeine while working. I know that Dali was obsessed with breasts and fruit-picking devices, but I don’t know if he ever said, “Don’t invite that jerk Man Ray to exhibit with us. He’s always late and he never chips in for wine and cheese.”

I read most of Stephen King’s memoir and wished he’d talked more about his cocaine use. How could he write, while addicted to coke? How did he physically, mentally do it? How’d he do it before he used drugs? What did he think of his contemporaries? When he played in that rock band with Dave Barry and his other writer friends, did switching mediums inspire them to write more, or was it just a necessary break? I don’t know. Doesn’t say. Maybe I need to go to the library.

There are live, not even so famous artists I admire a lot, and I always want to ask them intrusive questions about their creative processes, but I refrain. I know that kind of stuff is hard to talk about, and there might not be that big a market for it, anyway. It’s just shop talk, maybe, only interesting those in the industry. Guess I should say, then, that I’m greatful to the artists I know, for their willingness to talk shop with me. Because otherwise I’d be lonely. (Lonelier.) :)

My Least Accomplished Accessory

I’ve never been one for wearing belts. That began, most likely, because I grew up poor, and belts aren’t really accessories that poor women buy. They don’t buy belts, scarves, or trouser socks, I don’t think. Instead, they buy costume jewelry, cheap bags, and knee highs, because those things give you more look for the money.

So then, I became un-poor, but also fat. And fat women don’t wear a lot of belts because the only ones that fit are the ones at Lane Bryant, and those aren’t very exciting.

So… This story sounds like I’m trying to get sympathy, but I’m not. I’m just telling y’all that, for one reason and another, I’ve never really worn belts, and therefore I don’t feel comfortable accessorizing with them.

And now I’m not poor, and I’m less fat, and I subscribe to Lucky magazine. And, as all of you who read Lucky know, women are supposed to wear belts with every single outfit they own. You have to wear a pair of pants with a dress on top of it, then a cardigan wrapped over the dress, then a belt tied around the whole thing. Or, you can just wear a dress by itself… as long as you wear it with a belt. Or you can put the cardigan with your jeans, as long as you have a leather or canvas belt in plain sight on top of that. Or you can wear panties and a bra and a big, thick neutral belt. Or you can be naked, with a thin, metallic double belt.

You see what I’m saying? You’re supposed to wear belts.

Not that I follow Lucky‘s advice. I don’t — especially not as far as layering and color matching are concerned. I don’t know how it is in New York City, but here in Houston, we can’t get away with wearing dresses on top of other dresses, one in yellow and one in maroon. That’s, like, against our laws. It’s too hot for that many haphazard layers. Also, we’re still working the Three Color Rule here, as far as I can see. “Don’t be wearing more than three colors at once,” that is. Some people count neutrals with that, some liberal people don’t.

See what I’m saying? I’m not about to go overboard and buy anything that Lucky calls luxe, lush, or louche. But I do feel the need to buy belts lately, and I do wish I knew which belts went with what. Because the black suede number with the star-shaped rhinestone buckle? That I got from Torrid four years ago? I don’t think that works with anything in my closet anymore, and it’s too big now, anyway.

That’s all for now, y’all. Talk to y’all later. I’m gonna go Google “belts” now. Either that, or I’ll actually go back to my office and do some work.

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Posted in vanity, writing on 04/07/2008 05:02 pm

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