The Importance of Being Earnest (words on obsession)


Oscar Wilde said this about his process:  “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma.  In the afternoon, I put it back again.”

new and old homepages 2

And that’s the way it seemed to transpire in creating the new website.  The old website, dark, gloomy and sorely out of date had haunted me for some time.  Built in Dreamweaver, to seriously renovate it meant learning HTML code, and I’d not a single, anemic cell of desire to so.  That meant finding a website builder, a program that was easy and quick.  And so began stage one:  research.
Stage 1: Testing one site builder after another led only to testing my patience.  There are degrees of intuitiveness with website builders and various ranges of options, and these two components never seemed to balance very well.  So, I poked around with this program and that to a point of exasperation and eventual ennui.  Hopping on my bicycle or going for a long walk cleared the head momentarily but on returning, the closed door of my office resonated like a demon.  Close friends and others know that my studio is always open; my office, however, is my space, my sanctum, my place to think and no one is allowed there.  I had begun to wish I wasn’t allowed there, either.  But a choice of programs had to be made in order to get the show on the road.
Stage 2:   Not quite like pinning a tail on a donkey, but close, I chose a site builder.  Still wracked with uncertainty, however, from time to time, like an addict, I maintained an obsessive search for the perfect program as though it were the Holy Grail.  The importance of being earnest? …  Well, there is determination and there is fixation, the latter more akin to running on a treadmill.  Thankfully, we usually reach a point where enough is enough.  We jump off and back into the project at hand, resigning ourselves to making the best of what we have.  What I had was WIX, a program which by then had grown comfortable – intuitive, logical and affording a great deal of customization, it worked for me..
Stage 3:  Following several simultaneous months of plodding away with image preparation, writing, creating hundreds of documents (of which only some were used), the drums began to roll …  for a few minutes, at least.   One of my greatest weaknesses is an obsession to toy with every option possible, and in this case that meant design:  the look of it, the feel of it.  It commanded more time, of course, but this was the fun part:  tweaking.  I love tweaking.  Like a plumber with his pipes  —  a bit of tightening here and there and then, suddenly, it all fits together and it’s working.   Mission accomplished.  Then you make a cup of coffee and return to the studio.
Over the winter months many brushes were used and worn.  As most artists know, when bitten by the bug of making stuff (whatever the medium) an hour seems like a minute and time evaporates.  You’re in another world when working intensely.  In winter, night falls early and as your studio grows dark around you and your palette homogenizes into shades of grey (only 10 or so, not 50!) you look at your watch for the first time that day and realize you’d forgotten to eat or to run that errand downtown.  Sometimes, finding myself at 6pm, still in the studio and in dire need of a shower, I called to delay appointments, usually by an hour… which allowed squeezing in another 20 to 30 minutes of painting before trading my overalls for something less toxic.  —   This type of obsession has been kindly called passion.  I think it’s just laziness. … there’s no easier way to travel without going anywhere.
Although this was the first year since 1996 that I spent a full winter here in Canada, it really wasn’t so bad at all.   There were a couple of traumas (freezing pipes, etc.) but overall, there are things to be said for snow.  In deciding that a Canadian winter would be enjoyed rather than ignored, I made it my mission (added to the missions of website, studio work, etc.)  to enjoy a winter walk most mornings, sometimes dragging along a dear old friend who really wasn’t in to it.  On returning to my home one day for  a post walk cafe au lait , disrobing himself of scarves and parka, ice jewels decorating his moustache, he said, “There was a time I would have enjoyed that kind of challenge, but even young hearts grow old.”  Granted, there was a blizzard that day.  And needless to say, (understandably) he opted for the warmth of his fireplace thereafter.
So, winter was ok and sometimes stunningly beautiful, yet, I don’t know anyone (although I’m sure they’re out there) who doesn’t brighten with the longer days.  As Canadians, we climb out of our cocoons and spread our wings toward the sun.  Pale people emerge from their houses, recognizable now, stripped of their layers of thick winter clothes.  Our step lightens unencumbered by boots and laughter bobbles through back yards as BBQs are ignited and potlucks shared … and mosquitoes bite – giving us good reason to curse the summer although few do, no matter how good the winter walks were.
To Summarize:  A balance of obsessions is not a bad thing at all. 

Lastly, thank you to everyone who responded to my website with appreciated input and discovered errors.  Special thanks to Emilie Seaton for her most thorough critique and valuable suggestions, several yet to be employed. 

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About JT Winik

A Canadian visual artist whose figurative paintings are psychological explorations of isolation, interpersonal relationships, gender analysis and female sexuality.
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