pastiche n. an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist or period
I had always associated this word with a great little dessert restaurant in Providence on Federal Hill near Cafe Dolce Vita, which will always be one of my favorite places. I was surprised to learn what it actually meant. It seems very apropos as I have embarked on the “Artist’s Way” journey and am finding it to be very useful in unblocking my creative spirit. It has also caused me to think a lot about art, specifically the state of art at the present.
The old adage goes that “life imitates art,” but sometimes when I am working on something creative I feel like art imitates art. For example, I am currently cutting a lino block for a new project and I can’t help but think that my creation is starting to look like a Nikki McClure work. I love her work and have a bunch of children’s books that I purchased for Graham that we read a lot. I think I am subconsciously channeling her style…and it’s frustrating. In college, we used to have numerous exercises where one would have to write in the “voice” of a different, notable author. This helped to jump start creativity and develop style. One could say that this is what I am currently doing now with this particular piece. I think that all artists struggle with the overwhelming pressure to create a mark in this universe that is completely unique, unlike anything that has ever existed in the past and present. It is a tall order to fill and I think that most will probably never reach that goal. Perhaps being an artist is the endless pursuit towards just that.
The other day I was speaking to my husband about being creative and making prints. He said, “Just make something beautiful.” Sometimes when the brain gets full and I get too far ahead of myself, I need to remind myself of this simple advice. I don’t think there can ever be anything wrong, or useless or unworthy by adding a little bit more beauty to the world. It shouldn’t matter if it looks similar to something else that already exists or if it doesn’t have a voice that tells some complicated, convoluted story. Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Botticelli and Goya made beautiful art that didn’t always overtly express who they were or their view points. It was their style, their indelible mark on the world that expressed their personality. They embodied their artistic voice in their technique and style.
In our present age it seems artists struggle to make work that screams about who they are, their tragedy, their woe. Many times it is vulgar, ugly and meant to evoke emotion or reaction in the viewer…having nothing to do with technique, practice or ability. Art has become a kind of therapy for individuals where creating a tangible example of ones catharsis is the end result and goal. This is not the type of art I aspire to create.
I am “old school” about a good many things. Taking care of my son and cooking are two examples, especially meatballs. They can’t be too bready or too dry and meaty. They should have pignioli nuts, raisins optional. They should be pre browned in a pan and then finish cooking in a nice pot of homemade gravy. The first one you eat should be sprinkled with parmesan cheese and a little gravy. They get better every time I make them. I don’t want to reinvent the meatball. I just want to add something beautiful, simple and delicious to the world.
Now I just need to find my recipe for creativity…