Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Obsession Update; Obsessive Art

The project to paint huge blue morning glories on my car has taken tiny steps forward. The custom-cut stencil has arrived from England. I borrowed an electric sander from one of my brothers. And I've acquired a thrift-shop file cabinet to practice on. (Keep in mind: I'm a writer not a visual artist.)

The idea of painting my car this way has dogged me for years. There's a very good chance that it will look awful. But I must proceed. It's in my DNA. Or my karma. It was the same way with the idea of setting a novel in the city of Varanasi, India; it was clear years before I ever visited the city that I had to write such a book. That turned out to be Sister India, which grew out of notes I took after spending a winter there.

I am possessed in the same way now, not only with the morning glories, but with research on a biography of a strange and little-known painter who died in 1947. It's a good thing it's possible to be ferociously pulled by more than one project at a time; I'd be in trouble if I devoted all my time to car painting.

The feeling I--and so many of us, at one point or another--share is that of the guy in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He's obsessed with the shape of a mountain he has never seen. He even sculpts the form in mashed potatoes at the dinner table. He has to find that place.

That's one kind of obsessive art. The other is the kind that is meticulously repetitive: Campbell Soup cans, for example. No doubt, the two types of obsessiveness are related.

I do have a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder. And I don't want to romanticize that. It's no fun at all. But this passion for a project feels like an obsession of a different sort. It feels like love.

SIX LINKS, cool in extremely various ways, to more on art obsessiveness:

!Obsessive-Compulsive-Artistic Geniuses?

Why Do We Like to Watch Obsessive Art

On Being Eccentric

Inventive Art Created from the Mundane

Insect-Obsessed Artist

Obsessed with Painting vs. Finding a Balance

And A QUESTION: Do you ever get obsessed with a project, maybe one that you know is weird but MUST PURSUE anyway?


billie said...

Yes, I do.

And I also get obsessed with finding just the right "object" for a room or a house or a barn.

I didn't have a trash can in my office for several YEARS b/c I couldn't find the one I wanted.

I once dragged a dear friend visiting from out of state all over town looking for a certain pepper mill I HAD to have for the dinner I was preparing that evening. Fortunately she's a good sport and finds me amusing.

I suspect that kind of persistence carries over to creative endeavors, like book writing. If I can wait years for the right trash can, I suppose doing the same for the right publishing house for my novels is nothing. :)

Peggy said...

Oh, you're bringing back all kinds of memories. I too once did an extensive trash can search. And I did very thorough shopping for the right plastic spoon to go into a plastic Tupperware thing to put some potting soil in to keep at my office for when my plants need a bit of topping off.

A friend once told me that I wasn't slow as a novelist, I was thorough.

billie said...

That triggered the memory of my bursting into your office one weekday morning several years ago to inquire whether my obsession over what stamp to put on query letters was over the top.

I confess that I have let that one go.

More recently I went through a huge search for hoof picks. Matthew lost my favorite one and suddenly no one had them. I was describing them to the feed store owner a few weeks ago and he was telling me he'd order them - as an afterthought, looking for something else in the as-yet-unpacked shipment that had just come in, he found a whole pile of the exact hoof picks I had moments before been describing. He swore he hadn't ordered them and had not seen them in the box when he opened it earlier in the day.

I was thrilled.

richard krawiec said...

I guess I have the opposite problem. I don't take enough time on my 'life art' projects. I was halfheartedly sanding rust off my mailbox the other day and discovered my primer was white so I decided to use it as a paint and go for an abstract look. My 'black'mailbox now has dripping white down one side and 3 rough, assymetrical stripes on the other. My kids hate it, the neighbors are silent but I feel it's pretty good for 60 seconds worth of work.

Peggy said...

Have you seen the Star Wars stamps, Billie. Every one on the sheet is radically different, and dramatic. Choosing the right one adds juice to the day.

Richard, email me a mailbox picture and I'll post it. From the sound of it, you'll always get the right mail now. The mail carrier will know for sure which one is your.s

billie said...

I have seen the display - but not the stamps yet. I think I would enjoy putting those on letters. :)

Peggy said...

I heard about a marketing seminar for photographers in which the leader suggested that the participants be sure to use pretty stamps for any snail mail correspondence. How could visual people not?-- That was the idea. Makes sense to me. Stamps are tiny artworks.

billie said...

Peggy, have you seen the service available now where you can have your own stamps printed up, with your own design?

You could have Sister India stamps!!!

Peggy said...

I heard that once and it then slid out of my mind. I've just put the idea in my self-promotion file (see post above) for my next round. Thanks.