When I think about making art, I think of this image.
It’s called Le saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void) and it’s by the french performance artist Yves Klein.
Look at Klein’s body as he leaps. His arms and legs are both splayed upwards, fighting the natural instinct to break his fall. Even his head looks up, away from the ground.
He has leapt, but he has no idea how he will land.
This makes me think of the artist’s work and how the best - or at least the most thrilling, the most compelling - seems to come from authors, painters, filmmakers and musicians who are really flying by the seat of their pants.
The ones who bit off more than they could chew and who started before they knew how they were going to finish.
My friend Guy likens it to leaning back in your chair - edging closer and closer to the tipping point when you risk falling backwards. That space of high danger is where you want to be.
I wonder if you can build this mindset into your practice? What if, when drawing a sketch, you start by making a big ugly line right in the middle of the page? You’ve gone and done it now! Now you have to make the drawing work. Of course you could achieve this simply by working in permanent pen instead of pencil (#58).
On the larger scale: when you’re choosing your next project, lean into the unknown.
If you look at your idea and think “I don’t have what it takes to do this” then you will need to go through a transformation to complete it.
And if the experience of creation is transformative for you - the result will be surely transformative for the audience.
Of course, like much art, Le saut dans le vide is an illusion.
It is a very well-executed composite: Klein had a group of people holding a sheet to catch his fall who were then cropped out.
He wasn’t really making a statement about the risk of creativity either; like all readers, I drew my own meaning from my own experience.
But, like all readers, I am moved by the risk, by the act of an artist submitting themselves to the process, leaping when they don’t know how to land.
Look at him fly!
Until another Sunday soon,