So I am back working on my text series, this time painting Elvis Presley. Of course, no last name is needed, so intense was, and still is, his fame. Today’s blog is not so much about the art, however, as it is about my thought process as I work on the art. As I have been cutting up the book, Elvis and Me, by his former wife, Priscilla, I have been reading her version of their history together and wondering about her slant on their relationship.
Elvis and Me came out almost ten years after Elvis’ death. And interestingly enough, another book about Priscilla came out about ten years later. It was by Suzanne Finstad and portrayed Elvis’ ex as a “sex pot” and “wild child.” It was such an unflattering depiction of Priscilla that it resulted in a defamation lawsuit against the author.
I know it may seem as though I am rambling here, but what I am really winding my way toward is how people, myself included, try through their daily actions and enterprises, to control what others think of them, and how truly out of our control this is. Of course, we like to think that if, for example, we are nice to people, they will think we are nice. Or perhaps they will think we are being nice for some ulterior motive, such as trying to make people think we are nice. Or maybe we engage in an intellectual discussion in an attempt to make others think we are intelligent. Most likely those with whom we converse will simply find us to be pretentious.
So it is with art. I have to remind myself periodically that the decisions I make about what to paint and how to paint must come from somewhere other than the consideration of what will sell. For me there is a kind of purity of thought and creativity that must guide me. There must be a setting aside of ego. And it can be scary.
As an artist, I have found that other artists are often competitive and jealous. I am fortunate that the people who work in my studio are not that way. We have lots of discussions that help me fine tune the way I think about art, and about life. And though I do engage in quite a bit of commission work, I am fortunate that most of my clients trust me to make something I can be proud of.