SLARTIBARTFAST:Look at me, I design coastlines, I got an award for Norway. Where’s the sense in that? None that I’ve been able to make out. I’ve been doing fiords all my life, for a fleeting moment they become fashionable and I get a major award. In this replacement Earth we’re building they’ve given me Africa to do, and of course, I’m doing it with all fjords again, because I happen to like them. And I’m old fashioned enough to think that they give a lovely baroque feel to a continent. And they tell me it’s not equatorial enough… what does it matter? Science has achieved some wonderful things of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day!
And are you?
No. That’s where it all falls down of course
I was in my studio (well, shed to be honest) when this quote came to mind. I was preparing some boards for painting and considering what I might actually paint on them. That white canvas moment is always an issue and it’s worse when you are given the impetus to paint by some materials (in this case the offer of three nice frames on the cheap) rather than by an image that grabs you and you just think “I’ve got to paint that”.
I found myself thinking “well, that poppy field painting sold quickly, maybe I should do more of those” That’s when I thought of Slartibartfast.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is without doubt one of my favourite books. It has many wonderful characters, but Slartibartfast is one of my favourites. Slartibartfast does fjords. That is his path, and he sticks to it regardless of what is actually asked of him.
This may seem a tenuous link, but it made me realise afresh what I actually knew all along. I should paint what I want to paint, and for that matter write what I want to write. To try to do anything else is a mistake, I won’t enjoy it and more importantly I won’t believe in it. In which case I’m unlikely to do it well.
This must be a dilemma that many artists and writers face. Look for commercial success and accept the constraints it brings, or retain your artistic freedom and risk never making a dime.
Money vs Freedom
Gives me an idea for story.