(Header image: Painting (Peinture) by Joan Miró. More information on the header image can be found on the Guggenheim website.)
I love reading Maria Popova’s writings. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Brain Pickings, her “one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why” was — and remains — one of the most consistently enlightening and encouraging places on the web. It is a place to get introduced to artists and thinkers across genre and time, and to refill one’s inkwell.
Despite my already-high level of appreciation, from time to time, Papova highlights something that seems to transcend the “normal”. She brings to light a thought that resonates so deeply it shakes the core of who you are, in a good way. In this case, it was the words, and her reflection on the words, of Joan Miró. Specifically, it was his description of his working method, his sense of unease, and his source of happiness, that connected this way. Here are two snippets from a post I highly recommend you read in full.
Miró on distress:
Of course, a canvas can’t satisfy me [immediately]. And in the beginning I feel this distress… It’s a struggle between me and what I am doing, between me and the canvas, between me and my distress. This struggle is passionately exciting to me. I work until the distress leaves me.
Replace “canvas” with score and the words could have been my own.
Miró on process:
I work like a gardener… Things come slowly… Things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. I must graft. I must water… Ripening goes on in my mind. So I’m always working at a great many things at the same time.
If someone had attributed to me, I would not question it for a moment.
Just a sample of “grafting” and “watering” I am constantly doing.
While hearing a description of your own feelings in another artist’s words is always a tremendous pleasure and a very grounding sense of connection, it was Papova’s commentary that really made the whole of that article speak as powerfully as it did:
But Miró’s most potent point deals with the proper gestational period for art and the painstaking care that goes into any worthwhile creative labor. In an age when the vast majority of our cultural material is reduced to “content” and “assets,” factory-farmed by a media machine that turns creators into Pavlovian creatures hooked on constant and immediate positive reinforcement via “likes” and “shares,” here comes a sorely needed reminder that art operates on a wholly different time scale and demands a wholly different pace of cultivation.
I don’t think I can ever convey how much this acknowledgement means to me. Compliments (…and “likes” and “shares”) are wonderful (and, to some degree, necessary), but someone understanding what non-functional — but oh so worthwhile! — art takes (the pace, the commitment, the investment…), and (at least implicitly) saying that that’s OK, that’s something to really treasure
Part 2 will follow in a week.