Killing Your Babies?

While I was in college, I had a painting professor who gave us a simple, but sound bit of advice - "You've got to kill you babies."

What kind of advice is that?

What he was referring to was a derivative of the William Faulkner quote, "In writing, you must kill your darlings."

Seriously...W. T. F?

What both my professor and Mr. Faulkner were attempting to explain is a fundamental truth in creativity.  If you, as the artist/writer/creator are too precious with your work, it will inhibit your ability to grow past it.  If you have decided that something you've made is precious and lovely and wonderful, you are tying yourself to the conditions under which that product was created either stylistically, circumstantially, in terms of subject/content.

In other words, you limit yourself.  

If your immediate response to this notion is that you like what you make and you don't need to grow past it, then I'm not talking to you, for you are now, and will continue to be limited until you accept that growth is critical to art.

If, as an artist, you tie yourself to the conditions under which the "darling" was created because you want to repeat the success, you won't see ways that you can move forward.  To grow artistically, you have to understand that each creative endeavor is a stepping stone to the next.  To get to that next step, you sort of have to "kill" your last.  Sell it.  Give it away.  Paint over it.  Get rid of it.  You can't pollute your life with ghosts of your former self - and let us not kid ourselves into thinking that each thing we make is not, by proxy, and extension of ourselves, because it is.


So what I'm saying is - to take a step forward, you can't keep looking back.  For those of you who know what I paint and that understand the irony of me saying that.  Congratulations.  Practicing what we preach is a topic we'll address another time.


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