There are always a few key elements of any day that can spark an idea. It could be as vague as a feeling or a concept; or sometimes a complete and detailed image will unveil itself from somewhere within. This week it's been music that inspired a couple of doodles from song names I hadn't heard in a long time.
I was listening to Blood Sugar Sex Magik by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, an album I haven't really listened to for about ten years. There's nothing deep and meaningful about the visuals it inspired, but often there's nothing special about that spark, it just fires off organically.
So as I was driving home listening to the songs on the car stereo, I must have been in the right frame of mind for these song names to stick. If anything I've taken them quite literally and removed any symbolism or metaphor that could be taken from the titles Naked In The Rain and Suck My Kiss.
A lot of the time I get super tired of hearing people talk about what such-and-such means, or what a certain piece of art 'actually' means. In my mind, the vast majority of creative expression is meaningless, in that you can assign any meaning you desire. It's much more important to be evocative than academically symbolic, which is probably why I gravitate towards the abstract and surreal.
About fifteen years ago I saw an interview with Chino Moreno, lead singer of my favourite band Deftones. It wasn't long after the band had released their third album and the interviewer kept asking what each song meant. Moreno gave what I consider to be the perfect answer and said something like: "I know what it means when I sing it, but that won't mean anything to you when you hear it. It's more meaningful for you to come up with your own meaning that's personal and relevant to your own circumstances" (of course, I'm paraphrasing).
That answer stuck with me because I shared that view and have always tried to avoid hearing other people telling me what songs or art is supposed to mean. The exception is when an intended meaning is implanted in the work, such as a political protest song or painting. That sort of meaning is direct and literal, but it still has wiggle room for a little bit of personal interpretation. I'm sure that when I read the seminal feminist work The Female Eunuch as a twenty-something man in the twenty first century, I had a different experince to women reading it in the seventies.
Hence, I'm never all that keen to hear what an artist has to say about their work, and I'm less keen to say anything about my own.
I'm beginning to understand that this weekly blog series where I work on my sketchbook and try to get better at drawing, is also about exploring these ideas. As I write this now I am trying to get my thoughts in order to express these ideas and concepts, which is as valuable to me as the drawings themselves.
I've also included a couple of older doodles that may be self-explanatory, but were similarly inspired by a meaningless spark. I could wank on about the difficulties of quitting an addictive drug, or the challenges of being a non-drinker in a culture of drunks, but that wouldn't be genuine.
These drawings are simple doodles and nothing more. They serve as a reminder to me of the spark that brought them to the page. I don't expect anyone to get anything at all from these random sketches, as their value is personal and shallow.
It doesn't really matter what the drawings are of in any of my sketchbooks; the purpose has always been simply to draw something. Not only does putting pencil to paper help with technical development, but having to think of something to draw when you can draw literally anything, is an exercise in itself.
The real value comes from being made to flex some creative muscles, even if they're not always ones you can see on the page.