Finishing a Series
Here I sit, writing my fifth blog about the passionate embrace between Zentangles and my Autobiography series [2010 July, August, October; 2011 February]. Please note this month’s title. I have finished twelve of these obsessive, joyful, labor-intensive, hand-cramping artworks.
Have I finished the series or just run out of clayboards?
Like any Donald M. Murray acolyte, I need to write a reflection about this.
First to examine my emotions. Finishing a series always makes me feel sad, as if I have just lost a friend or come to the end of a really good book. It’s an empty feeling. When I have finished other series, I try to rekindle the flame by gathering the pieces together in my studio, but I feel like a photographer hired to take a graduation picture. Even though I recognize each piece as mine, it is as if I am looking at someone else’s work. Someone very obsessed.
I feel shut out because Challenge is already sitting on my shoulder, like some weighty angel: Don’t repeat yourself. Try something different. When I hear her, it shakes me to the core. I wonder if I have the strength to weather the mistakes and failures built into any creative endeavor. Even though Donald M. Murray encouraged his students to welcome and to learn from mistakes and failures, standing at the threshold, I know that it will not be all good news.
I suspect you knew that being an artist was not all happiness. Nothing is.
As I was applying the last coat of polyurethane to “Autobiography Twelve,” I thought, “Hey, I really LOVE doing these! Hmmm…I have six sizes here. What if I bite the bullet and buy just one more of each size? The series could grow to eighteen! It still feels as if there is more to learn from this process.”
So, I am not finished with this series. Or, more accurately, it is not finished with me.