Whack-a-mole is one of my favorite metaphors for life. We can all relate to the rhythm of trying to keep a handle on all things at once, and no matter how actively you manage things, those pesky moles keep popping up.
No matter what kind of work you do, we’ve all done a great job on something ONCE. The challenge, for professional artists, is to create a series, or a body of work, in which every artwork is amazing and unique, but they all clearly go together.
Curators like to see a “style” in an artist’s portfolio. They like to see a grouping that makes sense together. If you submit a bunch of random artworks that don’t go together, your proposal gets tossed in the bin.
That’s why I like to work on several artworks simultaneously, so that hopefully, by taking a bigger picture view of the collection, as opposed to working on one piece at a time, start to finish, they will all go together. It’s easier said than done. And it’s a lot like “whack-a-mole.”
“One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong … ” – Sesame Street
Yesterday I added a bit of red cloth to one of the artworks. It was amazing, and added just the right touch of depth and warmth in the deeply recessed landscape. I looked at the other artworks and sighed. It’s so different it stands out. Now I have to introduce this new element to ALL the artworks in the series. WHACK! The very thing that makes each piece a unique work of art must be replicated in each of the artworks without making them all look the same. WHACK!
Getting feedback on creative work is also akin to “whack-a-mole.” It’s necessary to hear from others because they come to it with fresh eyes. Usually people will see something that I don’t, or focus on something that I wasn’t intending, etc. As the Plumage Show approaches, (April 19) I’m getting close to finishing this new series, and I’m excited to show it to my artist friends and colleagues, and hear their feedback while I still have a little time to incorporate the suggestions.
Some of the feedback is great, and easily incorporated into the work. But, like those pesky moles, some suggestions sound an awful lot like “START OVER” because what they are suggesting is so different than what I’ve been trying to do with this series for the past two months. Yes, I COULD do a thousand different things …. I could paint it all black and call it “La Nuit Noir.” I could wrap it all up in white muslin and call it “Blizzard.” And then hike it up to the top of Mt. St. Helens and throw it in the caldera and call it “Ode to Pelé.” Whatever, er, thank you for that suggestion.
But I guess that is the nature of creative pursuit. Every time you get in a good whack, another pesky mole pops up.