I wonder if I do not need to revise the terms of my sabbatical and refrain from any research concerning the works of other artists, particularly those for whom drawing is their principle area of practice. I am faced with a dilemma; if I continue my researches I know that I will become dazzled and confused by the display of beautiful works set before me, and would be more than likely to lose all sense of purpose with regard to making any work of my own. Yet If I abstain, no longer allowing myself the somewhat double edged pleasure of viewing the works of others on line, then I deny myself any source of inspiration, or encouragement and confine myself thus to solitude once more. I must weigh up carefully. I know from previous and ongoing experience that I am most susceptible to a profound self doubt regarding my own practice, and that this self doubt is painfully deepened when I view the drawings of others; I am always astounded by ideas that I had not had myself, by evidence of materials used in drawing that I would never have thought of, and so I suffer very much by comparison, finding my own attempts paltry indeed. I also find myself easily confused by the proliferation of practices, and much cast down when I consider my own practice in the light of those of other artists.
Perhaps psychological solitude would be helpful, perhaps I need to travel inward rather than outward; there are appropriate times for either approach. Sometimes one needs, and thirsts after contact with others, even if that contact is limited to the viewing of other's work online, a poor substitute for engaging with works presented in a book or catalogue, and certainly no substitute for gazing upon a work displayed in a gallery, or studio. Yet without the facility for online research, my evenings alone would be lonely indeed, and I would have little idea of contemporary practice. Still, I feel that a period of self imposed abstinence is called for; I have recently been very active in my researches, now the need is for a time of reflection on what I have seen, and an in depth consideration of my own practice in relation to the wider context of contemporary practice.
Hanging upon the walls in the back bedroom are two of my framed drawings, mensis Ianarius I, and mons quies or calm mountain. I have forsaken the habit of removing earlier drawings, like the nimbostratus drawings, from their boxes in order to contemplate them, and in an attempt to find a way forward; the way forward is not to be found in previous works. Yet I still gaze upon the two drawings hanging on the walls, having chosen them carefully to be companions in my solitude. I now understand that the way ahead does not lie in attempting to repeat existing drawings, but as yet, I do not know the way ahead, it has not been made known to me. I am, for the time being bereft of idea and inclination, though possessed of a powerful anxiety to be making work, for how can I consider myself an artist if I do not, or cannot work?
It is lightless in the forest. The way is deeply mired, the undergrowth clings to one's clothing, and entraps one's limbs, the trees mesh overhead in a impenetrable canopied darkness.The forest is a place of profound disorientation, difficult to write of and almost impossible to speak of, it is a place both contained within and yet containing one's psyche, where the demons of self doubt and self loathing do their work silently, laying waste to one's sense of self.