Work. It’s our lot in life to work for decades to pay for our food, housing, and all our needs. Even though I had a good and fulfilling career, it was still hard work with long hours – and for much of it, I would rather have been at home making art! It can feel like a trap, being a “wage slave”, but we must do it, we have no choice. I funneled my frustration about work into many pieces of art through the years. This one above is a bit edgy, I admit, but it summed up my feelings about having to do things I’d rather not do for so many years.
In the early 90’s, I went through an artistic phase, which I called my fauvre phase. This is an art history term, a French word that means animal, and it denotes a wild, or animalistic style of art. Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists, went through a fauvre phase, which was characterized by an extremely loose style and wild, crazy color choices. After drawing in a tight, rather rigid style for many years, I had a breakthrough and entered a fauvre phase in 1992. I suddenly drew aggressively, not hiding my pencil-strokes, but reveling in them. I chose wild, crazy, nonsensical colors. Boy, was it a huge change! These three drawings were part of this phase, plus there were a few more. I did move on from this phase, but it permanently changed my style: no longer was I afraid of my mark-making, and I was bolder in my color choices.
Perhaps the lesson here is that even unpleasant or bad things in your life can produce good. The trick is to channel your negative energies into something positive. Is that why it is a cliche about the starving, suffering artist? Does adversity make better art? Does suffering make us all better people, because we grow stronger from it? If we manage to turn that pain into something good or beautiful, yes it does.