Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It’s A Sparkly or How I Learned to Love Being Manic

I had a teacher in college, over 30 years ago, who figured that I was going to be successful. He told me that it would take longer because I was pushing so many fronts at the same time. When your horizon is that broad, he explained, it takes a lot longer to move everything ahead versus being focused on one particular area, or niche. Well, I’m still waiting for that success. It hasn’t happened and I’m still all over the place. I think part of success is based on consistency and I am consistently inconsistent.

When my children were just wee tots, there was an animated film called the Secret of Nimh. I haven’t been too much of a fan of cartoon style movies for a long time now but this one caught my attention. It had a character, a crow named Jeremy that intrigued me (whose voice was done by the comedic actor Dom De Luise). Jeremy was constantly distracted during the adventure by various things and objects that caught his attention. He would be going along, get distracted and stop, and say “oooh, it’s a sparkly.” Well, that’s me! I seem to be constantly distracted by the sparklies, the new and different things that I encounter in my life.

The reason that I had (and still do have) such a broad artistic horizon is that I just can’t seem to focus on one specific (narrow) area in life and pursue it, or for that matter follow through on it. After all these years I’m not sure if that is a sad and pathetic thing or actually a good thing. There are just so many things in art to be interested in and so little time to explore all of the possibilities. When I think about all of the interesting things that life has to offer, it borders on being overwhelming. Something being overwhelming doesn’t necessarily stop me but constant trial and failure does wear me down and make me want to retreat from the world and my life. I know that I will cycle through it and greet my life with new enthusiasm and want to try new things. I just never seem to learn. Like Jeremy the Crow, the sparklies always catch my attention and distract me. The chemical imbalance in my brain that caused my disability also causes this attitude.

Over the course of my employment career I have sold commercial house paint and did custom paint tinting, I managed a hardware store and later an artist supply store. I have worked in a bakery and a small manufacturing firm building floor cleaning equipment. There was time in there to go live in a monastery to study theology and possibly to be come a priest. I have worked as a carpenter, a plumber, and worked doing plant facilities maintenance in industrial complexes. For a while I put siding on houses and then went on to sell building materials for a lumberyard. Later I switched to the printing industry. First on the pre-press-lithography end working as a paste-up artist and later doing film composition and color separations. After a hiatus of many years as a picture framer I returned to the printing industry doing customer service and sales work. I worked for 3 different printing shops before I ended up working in the financial aid office of a community college. It was there that my disability finally caught up and overcame me.

My artistic career has not been much different. There was my surrealist period, then going on to be an abstract expressionist. Later came color field painting and while I lived in NYC I had a gallery director call me a phenonmenologist (I still smile when I remember that). This was all followed by the conceptual art phase. After marriage and family I began to work realistically. That morphed into impressionism and that into expressionism and that into kind of, sort of, where I am now.

Gee, with a track record like that I just can’t figure out why success has eluded me. I say that, of course, tongue in cheek. My art and my life have been one very interesting ride. Sometimes it has scared the crap out of me but it has seldom been boring. The years and my disabilities have now worn me down but apparently I haven’t learned much from the experiences. My art is still all over the place, my life cycles between somewhat controllable periods of depression and mania, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (or if I want to grow up), and I’m still looking for the next “sparkly.”

The above pieces, like me, are all over the place. The long landscape is titled “Barn On A Grassy Hill.” It measures 12” X 30” and is done with oil pastel on a hardwood panel. The still life of 2 pears is done with soft pastel, conte crayon, and oil pastel on a hardwood panel and measures 9” X 12”. The nude is done with soft pastel, oil pastel, and oil paint on paper and measures 17.75” X 10”.


Blogger Lesly said...

Lovely to see you posting some different subjects .... the nude and the pears (why not try 'nude and pears' together in one painting!)are great! More please ...

You sound much happier than of late ... obviously having a sparkly moment! - I am so glad. And thank you for sharing your experiences of life with us. Not so different from many of us, really ... just a bit more of it!

May your 'sparklies' go with you.

8:18 PM  
Blogger The Epiphany Artist said...

Ed I am looking at your stuff objectively and everything I see here still has your signature style ;)

9:24 PM  
Blogger Tracy Helgeson said...

There are negative aspects associated with being focused too, Ed. I have been very focused for the last years on what I am doing, and have some success, relatively speaking anyway, but I miss doing other things like working with other mediums and having enough time for other non-art related interests.

I guess ultimately one just has to find the manner of working that fits and stick with that. Eventually it will all come together.

With all of various experiences you've had, you are probably a very interesting dinner guest!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Amy Stoner said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog and just had to comment on this post. Even though I don't share your life experiences or your disability, I can definitely bond with you over the "sparklies" - and the love of that cartoon character, since he has been one of mine since childhood!

My art is all over the place too. Sometimes, I get down about it, thinking that I will not be taken seriously doing acrylic, printmaking AND encaustic (and whatever else I throw in there someday), but in the end, it's what you're happy with. And at least right now, I'll stick with playing around in several mediums, exploring, and having fun rather that sticking to one thing and losing out on other artsy "sparklies"...but maybe that's just my art supply addiction talking! ;)

11:38 AM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Interesting how our world wants creative energy to fit into packagable, more-easy-to-market boxes (disclosure: I do marketing work for a living), but I think the truer course for creative energy is to run from sparkly to sparkly.

Love the range of these...and I see your indelible energy in all.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi Lesly, one of the things that I like about blogging is that there is a chance to see how similar we all really are and to not feel so isilated.

Hi Terri, I guess the biggest change right now is my approach with the materials, which doesn't show right now. As I get interested in more sparklies I am sure it will show.

Hey Tracy, for me, your focus is a wonder to behold. I admire it. At the same time it intrigues me because it is such a foreign concept to me because of how my brain is wired. You are correct in saying that we just have to find a manner of working that fits and stay with it.

Hi Amy, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I relate to the art supply addiction. I still haven't done any print making or encaustics, but give me time, they are sparklies that I will eventually find.

Well Hey Lori, one of the benefits of getting older (and now having a grandchild to play with), is that I can run all over the place playing with lots of different stuff. Accepting who and what I am makes it easier.

11:26 AM  
Blogger amber said...

Great post Ed
I relate with feeling all over the place.That unseatled feeling is a possitive thing I think. Wanting to know many thing,can lead to many exciting discoveries.Who knows what you'd missed if you were toooo focused.:)all the work posted sure seems like Maskevich to me

7:29 PM  
Blogger Martha Marshall said...

Ed, you are talking to a kindred spirit here. I've finally accepted my exploratory side and have stopped worrying about staying with one thing all the time. The only people who need you to do that are those who profit from your predictability. That is a trap that can lead to stagnation.

As for the work of yours that I've seen, it has your stamp all over it. I don't think you could prevent that if you wanted to.


9:11 AM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Hey Ed -- what's new in your landscape? I'm finally (sorta) back post-Massive-Work-Project. Hope all is well and sparkly!

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love the colours you've used in the pears, I'd love it on my wall to inspire me every day!

I'm one of those people who are not attracted to lots of different things. I love drawing with pencil now as much as I did when I was a child. Perhaps we always think that the grass is greener on the other side because I envy you and your ability to do so much and enjoy it all. I feel like I must be missing out or that I may discover something I love too late and regret the lack of time. We only live once, why not experience as much as possible?

3:28 AM  
Blogger Eero said...

Hi-I'm new to your blog---I work much in the same way----MANY styles, themes, mediums, etc. I've always been this way. Back in art college, teachers would condemn my wide range of work---said I had to narrow it down, had to focus. I'm older and wiser. Truth is: each medium/style/exploration feeds and informs all the others. I was a painter in art college, then a photographer, and in secret, a quilter...couldn't even tell them about that! Perhaps artists like you and I are just massively creative and all opportunities and mediums inspire us. (The way I like to think about it.)

9:01 PM  

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