I was showing my SO the progress I’d made on The Monsters, and she said: “These colors are just beautiful!” I said, I hope so, that’s what it’s all about for me, and my mind went back to a time many years ago when those words had an unwanted significance.
When I was 12 or 13, my mother had a good friend who happened to be the head of the psychology department at Baylor University. She arranged with him to give me a Rorschach test. I think this was because she wanted me to stop punishing my brother. I guess she thought anyone must be nuts that wouldn’t love him, or that she might approach me more effectively through psychology than by the threats that hadn’t been working.
(My brother was a poor excuse for a human being, he was his whole life long; and I’m not sorry for any grief I mananged to give him. I hesitate to call him an SOB or a bastard, because both these epithets wind up insulting my mother. As a feminist (and a mother), I am very bothered about that.)
Anyhow, I spent a couple of enjoyable Saturday afternoons in this gentleman’s office identifying various blobs and shapes, the most memorable of which were the ones in color. I recall one that looked like a lake in a springtime meadow: It was ringed by a riot of flowers and sparkling insects, and I couldn’t say enough about the color. It was truly beautiful. And when the test was done, I was told that I needed to be nicer to my brother. And my mother was told that I was too much in the thrall of my emotions. (Recall that we’re talking about a a pubscent female, now.) While both these conclusions may have been accurate, I wonder why the psychologist couldn’t have said, “What we have here is a potential artist who will find the joy of her life in working with color.” Would that information not have been more helpful? Does all artistic passion boil down to some sort of psychological disorder? Are artists doomed to a wasteland of “Different” because we see the world around us in a way not typical of mainstream observers?
Further, I wonder how much of the arts is sacrificed to some physical/psychological deficit: El Greco had an astygmatism, Van Gogh was crazy, Lautrec was a drunk who hung out in the Moulin Rouge, etc. A better description of art and the passion some of us find for making it is that it is magical and mystical and defies explanation.
That’s what I think when I’m just about finished with something and I feel it’s turned out well. Other times, I’m afraid I do wonder if I’ve lost my mind.