I've had artist's block of a weird sort for over a month now. I torture out a few paintings, but I have a hard time sustaining interest. It's not lack of ideas,* it's a lack of passion. I can't sustain interest in the painting for long enough to kick it out.
So I decided to take a page from James Christiansen, and try something with deliberate symbolism, something I felt really passionate about, in hopes that passion would sustain my interest. It might come out preachy, or incomprehensible, but hopefully it would at least come out, and one can't be afraid to make bad art, after all. And one of the things that really really gets my goat is people who believe in books over reality. If reality contradicts the book, reality must be wrong. Biblical literalists are the main culprits of course, but I also reserve a special disgust for people who believe crackpot conspiracy theories just because they're published. Believe me, people, I have had two art books published and a third on the way, and if I can do it, they'll let anybody do it. There are no background checks.
So I came up with this little guy. The water is rising, the rats are fleeing, but he has so much faith in his books that he is ignoring the reality that he's about to get very wet. Because I was playing with symbolism anyway, I started having fun with flowers--the geraniums, in Victorian flower symbols, stand for stupidity, and the columbine tucked in his scroll-hat are for folly. But as often happens with paintings, you can't paint somebody and not start to feel a certain affection for him. Sure, he's a haughty idiot, who stubbornly refuses to admit that his book is about to be swamped, but I suspect that he's really just scared of the water, and is really hoping it'll go away. If he'd left when the rats did, he'd probably have saved a few volumes, but now he's screwed. It's no wonder he doesn't want to face that.
But since symbolism is also basically silly, and you can't stand next to the painting and demand that people see what you meant, hopefully it's got enough of a visual appeal that people can put any interpretation they want on it. Maybe he just loves books and won't abandon them to the flood. I can sympathize. My dream apartment is one with walls made entirely of bookcases. Maybe it's just one of those weird moments caught in time. Maybe this guy knows how to surf on a hardcover tome. Whatever works.
I can't say it's a great painting--I like the water, but there are various bits that don't work for me--but it's at least a painting, and at this point, I'll take whatever I can get.
Prints available, 8.5 x 11 $10, 13 x 19 $20, send a note or visit [link]
*I mean this. Whenever I say I have block, people tend to flood me with painting suggestions, and while I really appreciate the kindness, realistically, I will never paint any of them. I do not have a problem getting ideas. I have ideas the way some people have leprosy.