When I haven’t been creating on a steady and consistent basis, upon studio re-entry I get a case of what I refer to as S.A.D.D., Studio Attention Deficit Disorder.
I develop this jittery leg antsiness when I finally sit down and attempt to create again. Just like this week when my thoughts and actions were spastic, like downloading a computer gone haywire. I was exhausting myself with a restless mind and pair of hands that could not find a place to settle. It seemed like a personal program glitch, I couldn’t overcome at the moment so I figured I might as well attempt to work with it. I wasn’t in a place to handle a face-off with a blank canvas, so my eyes began to comb the walls and shelves for any unfinished work (of which I have plenty). It was less intimidating to grab an abandoned scrap of a start, because having something to work with was better than nothing, even if I ended up painting the previous marks out. What did I have to lose? None of these works had accomplished any masterpiece status (not even close), and if my present S.A.D.D. condition ended up ruining them, no big loss. If anything, I would gain some much needed studio space back by cleaning out the clutter.
Before I knew it, I was working on multiple pieces simultaneously, jumping back and forth with the attention span much like that of a squirrel. When I exhausted ideas with one, I would go on to the next. Then, I noticed that what were once very individual and differing pieces began to resemble and share qualities as they were being worked on side by side, morphing into relatives rather than staying strangers. The family resemblance was becoming more evident, and siblings were being reborn.
It is the beauty of reviving old art, taking what I created in the past and adding what I now know in the present. What I didn’t attempt finishing in one season for whatever reason, would finally find completion in another. I see it as a melding of life and artistic experience. The younger artist in me had had the boldness, time, and inspiration to start many works, yet lacked the patience and perseverance to see these particular works through. Whereas the older (current) artist in me may not share that same endless energy or free circumstance, she isn’t afraid to persevere through an artistic challenge and possibly fail. What one season inspired, another season is bringing to completion.
As a result of my S.A.D.D. condition, I am now working simultaneously on three maybe four pieces. Old paintings, aged five years or more, of which I am going to work on top of with new mediums and techniques I am currently experimenting with that I had not the inkling of back then. I find the potential resurrection an inspiring challenge.
My challenge to you, fellow artist: Before you throw out those old artworks, consider keeping them in a special place to be rediscovered by your future artist self. What seems like a failure now, may provide just the right inspiration or platform you need one day to get yourself out of a creative slump or a case of S.A.D.D.