At times all I do is spend time painting and working in my studio and resent ANY intrusion that pulls me away and at times I suffer guilt because I’m so lazy or distracted that I can’t get in there.
In the car and on walks these days I’m listening to Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which is about a Chinese American mother raising her girls to be musical prodigies in the US. It’s very good, read by the author, and she conveys a nice mix of believing in the way she approaches parenthood and being aware of its’ insanity and pitfalls. That book makes me want to drill and force my daughter to do better (she is an A student who sometimes gets B’s) and to have that kind of diligence as a painter myself. Last night I watched A State of Mind – a British documentary about two girls preparing to take part in the Mass Games (watch this link, the picture in the background isn’t a huge jumbo tron, it’s thousands of people holding colored squares all changing in unison to create a huge moving image), a North Korean spectacle like nothing else on earth. It’s about extreme hard work and sacrifice in order to make art. You can almost forget that the government must have put as much effort into putting on a show for the filmmakers as it does in putting on the Mass Games, because the story about how hard these girls are working is so engrossing, their effort and sweetness is real, and yet while the story is moving you, we all know there is a horrifying side to North Korea. The girls innocent and creepy worship of the Great Leader (or whatever they call him) is so strange and foreign and familiar that it serves as a mirror where we could see our own nation’s patriotic fervor. But anyway, both of these stories are making me commit to being more disciplined and yet what to I do next? I wake up at ten am and lay in bed reading David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Just now I was reading his essay on E Unibus Pluram television and U.S. fiction where he seems to be saying people should pay more attention to the 6 hours of television we watch a day, and the mood it’s creating within me is to just enjoy the ridiculous indulgence of being in my PJ’s at noon.
Perhaps I’m drawn to watching and reading things like these because as of Jan 1 I am going to draw and paint and teach full time. I’m a little scared! I’m scared it won’t work and I’m scared I won’t work hard enough! I feel so undisciplined lately, but I’m hoping that’s because it’s the end of two weeks that have a lot of time off involved.
I’m sure as Don Draper says, “Everything is going to be fine.”