though i’m not blessed (or cursed as the case may be) with total recall, i do have a pretty good memory, though this doesn’t seem to extend to things i read. i’ve often attributed this to doing artwork. the hours, days, or weeks spent on any artwork are a sort of time-capsule of experiences and activities that occurred both in the making of that piece or just in life outside it. by looking at a piece of art i’ve done, even years and years later, I can usually crack the capsule open and retrieve any number of random bits of my life that went into it.
when people say that an artist puts his life into his work, there is a sort of truth to it. it’s true for everyone in the projects they do at their jobs but for many there is no clear delineation between one task and another and so time can sort of turn into this continuum where it’s difficult to clearly remember details along the way. i imagine builders may have a similar time-capsule experience, and certainly anyone involved in any other art field.
when i look at any drawing or painting i’ve done, even most preparatory studies and work done back when i was a child, i can visually recall each piece in at least one incomplete stage, and my working on it. that in itself is fascinating to look back on, these mental snapshots that accompany looking at past works. but the bits of life are valuable to retrieve as well—the mundane activities that accompanied the period of time. or, sometimes emotionally charged events and moments. they’re all in there, but in each case the things that were sealed away with the painting were beyond my control. sometimes the most random and dull memories come rushing back, but there’s no understanding why they were attached to the piece but not something else that i know for a fact happened at the same time. so in a real sense, when you purchase a piece of original art you really are purchasing a bit of the artist. i’ve occasionally considered accompanying each painting i sell with the art’s own mini-biography detailing these things, but that’s a bit self-indulgent. so i blog about it instead!