Confident Insouciance!


I’ve often wondered when it is mentioned in articles, job descriptions and so on, what the difference is between an emerging artist and an established artist. Number of years served seems an inadequate descriptor somehow, as we all start, develop and work at different times and rates. Qualifications also are unfit measures as some people achieve the heady heights of PhD before the age of 30: while some of us see ourselves as unlikely to achieve (or want to achieve) such a thing.

But I have reached, I think, a personal epiphany here. Established means feeling able to say “Fuck knows!” with an air of confident insouciance when asked “What does this work actually mean though?”

I have reached that point, sporadically, and I welcome it. It isn’t a constant, but it does exist.

Take these recent drawings for example. Up until this week I had no real idea what they were for. But I trusted my brain to do the thinking while my hands did the drawing, and that something, some sort of excuse, would make itself known to me. This is happening… in glimpses… in fits n starts… but it is.

That is gratifying.

THAT is what established feels like… I think… trusting the process and not feeling worried about it, or saying it.

So this is it then… I’ve developed over the last few weeks and possibly months now… a collection of ingredients, motifs, ideas. These ideas are related to each other, they ripen from each other, they spread spores, they communicate, pass information, memories and qualities to each other, that communication works both ways, makes connections, and evolves into something else.

I think my textile work had sort of stuck because it could not find a way to evolve past the figurative, whereas the drawings are pushing past the knots and making themselves into something else. It may be that once past the obstacle, I will find a way again to the textile, but in a different way, and with a new language. But for the moment, I shall carry on drawing until something makes itself clear. There is something I haven’t yet pinned down about the quality of drawing that allows this to happen, that the stitching did not…

In the meantime, I shall feel free to answer “Fuck knows!” to anyone who asks, but will listen attentively to anything they have to say… just in case!

2 thoughts on “Confident Insouciance!

  1. jeandrawingaday says:

    I think you’re right about motifs appearing as you work, without any planned intention. That’s been happening to me since I’ve made myself make art regularly, although I don’t claim to be an established artist. Making art with no purpose in mind other than to meet my vow to make art every day (e.g. not to sell) leads me to these ideas that I return to, maybe I’ll get the chance to do something more with them one day.


  2. Elena Thomas says:

    It’s the regularity that counts, I think, Jean, because if you keep doing it you find a shorthand, preferences and habits that you can then recognise, then decide to keep them or dump them. It’s only when you have a body of work that you can really see what’s happening. If you only work sporadically, or like students I’ve had in the past, chuck stuff away, you have nothing to recognise or judge, or to claim as your own. Repetition brings about mutations and personal little idiosyncrasies….


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