Tag Archives: creativity

On being an artist

22 Sep

Today is a lovely day to be in the studio. Some days are hard- nothing is flowing, questions of color and form are asked but not answered. Self-doubt and fear are easy companions. But not today. Today is dark out, rain and damp, but bright and joyful in spirit inside. I always light candles and burn incense when I work, and Pandora (radio) today; Brunch Café. George Ezra singing ‘Budapest’.

I met with a fellow artist this past week, and we lamented the crazy, alone, truly struggling with our work days and celebrated the bright sunny everything-is-working days. Both glad that we do not get depressed easily. Nice to know we are not alone in our work or in our practice.

It is nice to know that I belong to the sacred sisterhood and brotherhood of artists, writers, poets; The Creatives- that are leaving their beds, headed to their desks and easels, facing a day of creativity. Bringing something into the world, something new, something as yet unnamed. Bringing to life this image/idea they feel, rarely seeing it fully formed. Relying on talent, perseverance, trust and plain hard work. We do this for the love and necessity of bringing forth something new. Not for a boss, or a guaranteed paycheck, or status – but simply for the need to express whatever it is as it moves within us.

Not the hard work of the corporate world, or the hard work of day laborers, but the hard work of birthing. No mastermind group, strategic planning team or other such midwives sit waiting with me in these quiet hours. It’s me and my process. It unfolds with me, and often in spite of me. Decades of just showing up, have formed themselves into a practice, a discipline of sitting and just doing the work in front of me.

Don’t misunderstand, I am certainly not alone in this birthing. Besides the much sought after and unreliable Muse, I have my Crazymakers, who attend the bringing forth of my creative child. Boredom, self-doubt, irritation, excitement, interruption, anger, financial worry, incredible joy, intense pleasure, pride – often fall over each other in the sheer hope of getting my attention. The Discipline of Showing Up has had the benefit of informing these clowns that I am the master of my attention – all these feelings still show up, but they kind of sit quietly off to the side of me as I work and discuss things amongst themselves. Their bickering and murmuring is nicely covered up by Brunch Cafe today.

I’m not whining. I wouldn’t choose any other way of life, although I denied myself the right of being an artist for many years, for many truly stupid but hard to overcome limitations. Our society doesn’t approve much of artists. We are barely tolerated when we live out of our studios or cars, venerated when we are ‘successful’ and worthy of being seen. Kids are still discouraged from being an ‘artist’. I get it. But maybe the ‘Civilians’ as one of my friends calls her non-artist friends, are the ones who don’t get it. Maybe they don’t get the inner pressure that builds, the ideas that form, the visions that just don’t go away, demanding expression. They don’t get the years spent refining this internal and external dialogue that happens between you -and whatever that ‘other’ is. They don’t understand the crack high of an idea that comes out, thru you, that you as the proud parent get to see walk out into the big wide world with a life of its own bringing joy or understanding to a hurting world.

Of course these feelings aren’t just limited to artists. Entrepreneurs feel this, as does anyone that creates first and foremost for the love of the acts of pure creation and expression.  Yes, if you’re good and persistent and ready for it, the money will come. And the fame. But these are ego territory and can quickly cause the Muse to fly and the Crazymakers to flee.

The Artist’s Dance is to keep the Muse and the humility provided by the Crazymakers alive and well. Not the loudest voices in your head certainly, but they do provide a mastermind of sorts. The Muse provides inspiration and profound guidance, while the Crazies keep me grounded and well in touch with my humanity; the suffering and the joys of others. Balance. I try my best to be the master of my mind, making decisions based on all the guidance and terror dished up by the voices. (ok, no, I do not actually hear voices, that would freak me out.)

You know what I mean. I give this feeling a chance to be expressed and instead of going crazy from the irrationality of it, I stay with it and trust that the most basic act of all humanity, creativity, will take care of itself. I just give it space and time to be. So I sit alone, and yet profoundly not alone today, connected to all artists past and present, doing what we have always done- struggling to manifest the reality we see into shape and form. A noble calling. You have to be awfully brave to be an artist in this world today. Truly being in this world but not of it. Be true to yourself today. Let something move you. You are in good company. You can’t see us when we are struggling in the studio, but we are here. We got your back.

For my latest work- see my Tumblr

or my Instagram

A Millstatt Face

1 Sep

Millsatt Face Day 9.  A Millstatt Face. Millstatt Abbey  is a former monastery in Millstatt, Austria. In this City of Mil, we find that  ancient Celtic beliefs were overlayed with Christian beliefs in 1070 AD, when the Benedictines took over. The city itself is named after the Celtic creation god, Mil, as it translates literally, ‘City of Mil.’ Well then. Locals believe that an ancient place of worship existed here as least as far back as Charlemagne, if not before. The town’s name certainly  implies that this holy place has pagan beginnings.  In a beautiful carving, typically stylized Celtic faces peer out from above the massive entryway. The scene over the door  shows

‘the sun, moon and stars watching Millstatt Monastery being given into the hands of Christ by its founder and are struck dumb (literally, they have no mouths) by this pious act.  Could this be an unconscious reference to the silencing of the ancient pagan beliefs?’  says Historic Impressions.

Now whether or not you’re pagan isn’t the point. Or at least not my point. I’m wondering if the face peering from behind the crescent moon has a right to speak? Is he not allowed a voice just because he comes from a different perspective? And I wonder about the many, many artists who have effectively allowed themselves to be silenced, not from fear of persecution, but by our modern day fears of self-doubt, insecurity and general unwillingness to accept and believe in our true worth. WHICH IS PRICELESS. So is it fair that we silence ourselves- or anyone, for that matter, because our opinions don’t reflect the status quo? Because we ‘don’t believe in ourselves’ anymore?’ Because we’re afraid to speak our truth?

We live in a time of incredible freedom – we pride ourselves on this very freedom. We say we value ‘mavericks’, ‘individuals’. Well? Standing up for what you believe and expressing it takes great courage, mastery and discipline. So does being an artist. Mavericks. Deviants. Bohemians. ARTISTS. Celebrate that creativity, use your freedom of expression. Be courageous. The world need artists, just as it always has needed court jesters. Truth needs to be expressed, one way or the other. Don’t be silenced by fear. Let your heart open and express your truth.

 

 

Banished

10 Oct Banished janetbalboa
Banished janetbalboa

Banished c.janetbalboa2015

Roberto (my darling husband) posted my finished picture ‘Banished’ -on FB last night. Which has prompted me to write about it a bit sooner than I had intended.

I usually take time to sit with my work after it’s done. In a way, I meet my picture for the first time in this way. Before, it has always showed up to our meetings in a state of incompleteness. This in-the-process-of-being-finished stage of my art always has a lovely feeling of potentiality and possibility. Things can still creep into the drawing, it is still very much in process and dynamic. When I see my work framed and behind glass, it is finished. Complete. An object now, something I can observe in its final state.

I form opinions, observations, see it differently than when it was a work-in-progress. My work starts with a curiosity, a wondering about something and then over the course of months, I literally draw out my answer. It unfolds and reveals itself to me in the forms and colors and images that present themselves while I work. So I never start with a complete picture- I always have an image to get me started. Then I watch it unfold. I suppose it is similar to when characters begin to perform actions and demand scenes that surprise and delight their parent writers.

It’s because of this that I reflect after the picture is done- what was the answer to that question I had so many months ago? Have I changed to accommodate this answer? I believe with Rilke that we must be able to live our answers – and until we can, be content with loving the questions themselves. Often times the answer comes slowly as understanding born of research, insight and conversations are composted and turned over in my mind.

I am often asked what my pictures mean. And as you now know, they are personal answers to my personal questions. My experience and work with the symbols and images gives them meaning. But because my questions are similar to questions that many of us have, they also have a universal answer – and therefore we share meaning. The meaning resides in you, in how active the same symbols and archetypes that activate my questions, are present in you. Your life experience will bring different interpretations – are these any less valid? Anything that stirs the heart, moves the soul, causes us to wonder is a healing balm in our world of concretized dogma and instant answers.

Learning to trust ourselves fully and allowing our hearts to soar, far out on their strings – or on our sleeves –is letting our vulnerability touch and be touched by the world. We are big enough, encompassing enough, wise enough to enfold ourselves in our own healing embrace. Internally strong we come from our center; our unbreakable connection with the Mystery of our Being as it moves through time and space in the intricate and lovely vehicle called ‘me’.  You. Us. One of a kind magic.

This is what I wrote this morning on the information card I include with all my work. Each card relates to a specific picture. This is the card for ‘Banished’.

banished info card

It says:

banished As a culture, our inner masculine has devoured the action oriented Hero archetype- forgetting that the journey finishes with a return if it is to be a true journey. After the deeds are done, the lessons learned, the actions taken, the hero puts down his weapons, leaves the field of action and returns home- ideally giving back to the world the hard won truths. If everyone is off on this hero quest- who is keeping the metaphorical home fires burning? Who is there to welcome us as we return? We have overlooked- banished- the feminine; the receiving aspect of ourselves. Our inner feminine; the receptive, intuitive, inclusive and mother (an entire half of ourselves) has not been allowed a conscious or empowered place in our bodies or minds for thousands of years. The goal of the hero’s journey is the return – to society, integration, relationship – the world of feminine nature. The achievement of balance between both aspects of our nature allows us to become fully, beautifully, incredibly human.

Yin Yang, Beauty and Hedgehogs

17 Dec
JanetBalboa c.2014 Marker on marker paper 12 x 12

JanetBalboa c.2014
Marker on marker paper 12 x 12

Further along. Finished a fabulous book yesterday – The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. ‘Wow’ is all I can really say about that. And, I will be sending Muriel a copy of this print as soon as I finish it and can find an address for her. Why? I sense the same quest for beauty – the same need/desire to see that beneath all the fear, all the scary stuff is a beautiful, untarnished world that reaches out to us. When we are very quiet and choose to listen, we can hear the muse. Mmmmm…yes.

I’ve also been working on a site – Go for the soul.com – where one can buy my work, if one were so inclined. I have to figure out the shipping bit, but for the most part, it is done. It drives me crazy really, because I always choose drawing over working on the site. So of course, the web site kind of plods along. meanwhile:

JanetBalboa c.2014 Marker on marker paper 12 x 12

JanetBalboa c.2014
Marker on marker paper 12 x 12

I plan to finish and scan this today. Which means I’ll post a far better picture of it, without all the weird light reflection noises. The empty spot will be filled with a shell of the type common to Ireland, (New Grange). The Discus Rotundatus, some theorize, could be a model for the famous spirals. I like the idea of a spiral shape in the ‘Yin” spot – feminine, dark , moist; perfect.

I love that frog. That was late last night. Happy.

Creative people…are also Innovative?!!

30 May

Are creativity and innovation really the same thing? Do creative people have inherent innovation ability? Well? Do we?

Best answers:

CREATIVITY:

Creative people are like a dog with a bone. They refuse to let go of an idea. They mull over the problem at their workbench as well as in the most mundane places. They chew on it just as a dog chews on the same old bone for hours. And just as the dog guards the bone safely between its paws when not actively chewing it, creative people nurture an idea, even when not actively thinking about it. The true marks of creativity are:

1) an ability to sense which problems are likely to yield results and so are worth tackling,

2) confidence that you can solve the problems that you single out for solution, and

3) a dogged persistence that keeps you going when others would give up.

Creativity does not result from mysterious visions that come in dreams, or from fortuitous circumstances. Creativity and persistence are synonymous. Constantly thinking about the problem, consciously and unconsciously, maximizes the possibility that a chance occurrence is likely to be useful in solving it.  ~ Neurologist Richard Cytowic

 

AND INNOVATION?!!

It’s the age old difference between theory and practice. Creativity is having a unique, strategic idea for something — innovation is finding a tactical way to implement that idea and actually derive tangible, quantifiable benefit from it. A good idea doesn’t always translate into a feasible practice. JoeNatoli (User/Customer Experience (UX) Analyst & Consultant, Give Good UX)

 

Innovation requires creativity, but creativity alone does not lead to innovation. The difference between creativity and innovation is simply that creativity refers to the ability to generate new ideas while innovation is the ability to turn new ideas into reality. More often than not these attributes occur together as creative people are also very likely to be innovative. Creativity without innovation may never have any impact because only the latter ensures that new ideas are implemented. Matthias Rothkoegel (Founder & Owner, Engage Marketing)

Yes, yes we do! Whew!! Another feather for the cap…

Choosing Where You Are Going

22 May
20140517_120326

heart chakra – drawing in progress

 

When you are on the path to knowing who you are and consciously directing your energy in the direction that you want to go, you are courting inspiration. Identifying who you are and where you are coming from clears a lot of psychic clutter; old beliefs, dead weight; all the stuff you are not. It’s hard to get filled with inspiration when you’re full of old baggage.  The initial effort must be to head in the direction of joy daily, no matter how small that step is. Getting rid of all the emotional baggage and clutter connects you back to open space. The place of potential is where inspiration starts.

Inspiration literally means to be spirit- filled. On the wings of spirit comes vision. The Bible states, ‘without vision the people will die.’ Being inspired and having a vision is the difference between looking forward with anticipation to our days rather than just getting through another day.

Inspiration fills you from within. Recognizing what you love, getting excited. Consciously making room for those things you love creates the attitude of joy and inspiration. The importance of being inspired cannot be overstated. When you are fired up about something, you have the motivation necessary to accomplish it. When you are uninspired life is a boring waste of time. It becomes difficult to perceive any meaning. You have to have inspiration and vision so that your life can have meaning.

Vision is the over-arching dream from which goals and directives present themselves. Vision by its nature is inspired, therefore, inspiring. Filled with a vision, you are overjoyed and blissful, motivation is easy and natural. Vision, when combined with your love for what you want to accomplish and delight in expressing your talents, will start an avalanche of motivation.

In the past, you have often been told that you need a plan, a strategy–goals to accomplish your new vision. So, thinking about it, you write down what you need to become and would like to accomplish. Your initial glow of intention lasts the entire day, but then you wake up the next day with zero motivation. In addition, you can now add frustration, disenchantment and depression to your emotional bank account. Fabulous.

The problem? Most people use their heads to goal-set. This way of arriving at outcomes, looking ‘out there’ and deciding what is needed, (often based on the expectations of others, or extenuating circumstances) – is always external and therefore intrinsically uninspiring. Writer Michael Neill came up with a great way of describing the standard left-brained way of goal setting. He calls it S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-specific.) Another recipe for millions of people leading lives of quiet desperation. When you set your goals in this frame of mind, what outcome can you expect? A mechanistic life that will be specific, measurable, action-oriented (read exhausted) realistic and time-specific. Where is the joy? Where is the excitement?!! Where is the human being and her ability to create? LIFE, participating in life; means feeling inspiration, excitement – passion; things that bring out your best and challenge you to become more. How are these things going to manifest if the path to achieve them is based on an uninspired list of external ‘things I want’ or ‘I want to achieve”?

Vision on the other hand, has the emotional fire of passion behind it. Your emotion from the heart is what gives you motivation. Passion comes from the heart, not the head. It takes courage to put your heart into something. You risk involvement. But isn’t that what you want? Involvement with life? Aren’t you done with watching your life drift by? To seize the day is what it means to be human, to make the most out of life. You are intended to be co-creative, interacting– a participant.

To the degree you invest your heart into your life is the degree that you will love your life. Where are you already investing your heart? What are the things you love? Notice the things that you are passionate about, the circumstances that make you want to jump for joy. Your passions are clues to where you will find inspiration, power and motivation. These ‘things’ are not things out there, but qualities you possess, skills you have, states of being.

It’s a subtle perceptual adjustment, but the new path has to be based not on ‘things I want’ or ‘things I want to be’- but on who ‘I AM’.

Bring forth and develop the being that you already are, that which make you unique. This is the only way to find joy, abundance, and meaning in every area of your life. Learn to tap into the source of joy and watch that feeling begin to manifest in your life. Watch in amazement as the Universe reflects joy back to you. Or abundance, or creativity. All these things you already are, your talents and gifts, once expressed will be where you find your true fulfilment.

When you are inspired, you begin to have a vision of how things could be. The joy of working that vision into reality with all its challenges and difficulties is exciting and fulfilling in itself. Fulfilment comes from expressing who you are as fully as possible. Nothing helps express you more than living your dream wholeheartedly.

Your desires will remain a vague wish unless you give them the power to manifest. No one can do this birthing for you. Your job is to bring these thoughts down from the mental plane into the material realm. This is the human’s co-creating ability. Spirit fills you with desire; you pull the desire into material form. Your part in co-creating is visualization.

The Universe does its part- it gives you the desire to express more. Without you, nothing will happen. You must do your part. Only you can give the desire direction (imagination and visualization) and energy (emotion) thereby producing the feeling that will change your now into wow. It works. But you have to do your part.

Somewhere, not too far into this process, you will catch on fire. The moment any part of your vision becomes a reality, you will sense it. You will believe.  The instant this happens your way will become smoother–magical. ‘Unseen hands’ will appear–events and people will spontaneously appear, with the information, encouragement, and support that you need at exactly the right time. It will be easier to hold your head up, because you will have a sense of strength from deep inside you that will bring you joy. You will know in your heart that you can do anything you put your mind to. You are becoming self -reliant and truly prosperous– from the inside. You have to be before you can do or have. You are mastering the first step–’be’. ‘Do’ and ‘have’, action and attainment, will naturally follow. All your actions and the results they bring you are the direct result of who you are being.  You too will be on fire, watching your vision turn into reality.

My Muse wants me.

8 Mar

we-can-do-it

There is a lovely story told of Monet as he sat deep in thought in his garden. His neighbor looked over the fence at him and said “Ah, the life of the artist – all rest and repose.”   Monet looked up in surprise and replied “No, you see, I am hard at work now. It is when you see me finally painting that all the work has been done. This composing, the pulling what I see to the canvas, this is the work my friend.”

I say this because every time I start something new there is a nasty bit of time where frustration and impatience threaten to end my creation even before it begins.

Frustrated by the inevitable loss of something in the translation from feeling/experience to manifest image, I lose my connection.

Frustrated by the fact that I don’t see clearly enough, I lose my connection.

Frustrated that I am ‘wasting time’, I lose my connection.

Meanwhile, my Muse patiently picks at her gel nail tips waiting for my return to the task at hand. It’s  gonna happen. We know each other. We have a dance worked out.

I am greatly relieved to remember Monet and his understanding of the role of the artist in the attitude, preparation and conception of any creation. The necessary hard work which often deteriorates into courting, begging and flat –out threatening of the muse. My Muse, in addition to her traditional role as bringer of inspiration, has also taken on the admirable qualities of any good bartender/bouncer. She listens patiently, nods, encourages, yet will swiftly cut me off if I threaten unconsciousness. 14280-last-judgment-michelangelo-buonarrotiAncient muses were lovely, slender ethereal beings. Looking more like one of Michelangelo’s manly, robust gals, my muse is fully prepared and willing to kick my ass.  At first I was a bit put off by the tattoos and piercings, but I realize why she has had to toughen up.

We don’t take our muses seriously anymore. Only a century ago, Thoreau, Yeats, and Emerson walked endlessly across the countryside courting, pondering; thinking. Einstein takes a menial job so that he has time to think. Monet sits in the sun.

Time is a luxury. I know this. We say we don’t have the time. But time contains within it eternity. It takes only an instant for a sunset to move us to awe, the grateful look of a child can bring us to tears in a heartbeat, and lovers can show us the face of god.

Forget about time. I’m talking about attitude. Being open to the mystery, the awe, the wonder – Muses have always been irresistibly attracted to this type of human. If working out gets you into your creative grove, do it. If volunteering at your kid’s school gets your compassion going, be there. If having a glass of red and staring at a blank canvas gets you in the moment, do that. Cranking up the music on the drive home? Cooking gourmet dinners? Sitting in a garden? Do whatever it takes to show up.

Maybe art isn’t your thing. But if you are human, creativity is your thing. Your Muse is here. Waiting and a little impatient I might add. Tough gals now, appearing with sleeves rolled up and ready for work. Try to be there when she shows up.

So work it. Work the attitude. Spend time doing things that engage you with the mystery that is beyond, around, and within us all. If you can bring just one bit of that wonder and awe down here to earth, you have served us all well. Court the Muses, create space for their whisperings. (Yeah, unfortunately they still whisper. Seriously? Who whispers anymore?)

And if you don’t want to take my word for it, my other Muse whispers this:

It seems to me that it’s the work of poets and artists to know what the world-image of today is, and to render it as the old seers did theirs. The prophets rendered it as a manifestation of the transcendent principle. That’s what we lack today, really. I think poets and artists who speak of the mystery are rare. There’s been so much social criticism of our arts, which is just one facet. But the other function of the poet – that of opening the mystery dimension – has been, with few great exceptions, forgotten. I think that what we lack, really, isn’t science but poetry that reveals what the heart is ready to recognize. ~joseph campbell

We are here. Whatever the reason. Our only real job is to show up and be open to inspiration. We don’t get to choose to be inspired; it’s hard- wired into our nature. It has always chosen us. Let her find you ready to work when she comes.

on meaning and meaningful

29 May

Creative ability is often confused with the creative process itself. Instead of focusing on what you want to create and its manifestation,  your energy is depleted with wondering if what you create will have any meaning. You get sidetracked into a need to make your work (therefore your life) meaningful. You are hesitant to create  because you begin to doubt your creativity.  This often results in a vicious cycle of  depression, anger and  frustration. The question is ‘What shall I create?’ not ‘Is what I create meaningful?’

The unconscious assumption is that ‘if what I create is meaningful, my life is meaningful.’ Conversely, ‘if what I create has no meaning, then I have no meaning.’ This assumption is especially hard on artists and creative types because so often they take meaning from their work, not from their ability to create their work.

Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, said that people often asked him what he felt was the meaning of life. He felt they had the question backwards. He felt the real question was ‘what meaning does life hold for you?’ What do you love? What makes you grin ear to ear? What means the world to you? What is precious? Where do you find your bliss?

You will find meaning in the same place that you find joy.  You create meaning in your life when you find yourself discovering joy. The things that light you up are the clues to where your meaning lies. When you know what brings you joy, you will know what your life means to you.

Somewhere around 1707, Antonio Stradivarius was making incredible stringed instruments in Cremona. He poured his heart and soul into making the best instruments in the world. People came from all over to hear the heavenly quality of the sound he produced. God decided one day to visit Stradivarius.

“Stradivarius my friend, indeed, you make the best violin on earth. The angels tell me every day how they too, would like to play a Stradivarius violin.”

“God,” said Stradivarius, “what a surprise to see you. Please, have a seat. I am not worthy of your attention. I use the humble talents you have given me to create great instruments. You know that I know that without You I am nothing.”

“Yes, this is true” said God, “without me you can do nothing. But without you, Stradivarius, the world would not have such wonderful violins!”

Stradivarius’ purpose was to express the God-force flowing through him. He found his meaning and greatest joy in creating incredible violins.

The life force will take a spin on your particular gifts, talents and pop out a combination that has never existed before. No one else can do it like you do. Your peculiar mix of talents and abilities combined with LIFE will allow a new note to be heard in the big song. And guess what? It’s up to you to decide how you want to play your tune.  You decide what’s meaningful for you. You decide how you are going to harmonize.

Where is your connection to meaning? In the direction of creativity, music, dance, raising your kids, writing novels, relationships, gardening, stamp collecting?  Even if you just accept the idea that you have the ability to create meaning for yourself, you begin a series of life-changing, life- enhancing realizations. You are always creating. Consciously choose whether the experiences you create are meaningful or not.

When you begin to focus on what is meaningful to you, you will become conscious of where you are placing your attention. Are you consciously thinking and doing those things that will bring meaning to your life? Or are you un-focused and at the whim of external events? Your thoughts, words and actions are creating the world around you. Is it meaningful?

As meaning starts inside you, it will expand to the walls of your own home, to your family and friends then outwards into your community. As your circle becomes wider, and includes others, synchronicity will become more apparent everywhere. People, events, and circumstances will begin to reveal your connection to and with everything. You will begin to see your role as co-creator in action. You will see your meaning as it is reflected back to by those people and things you influence. You will begin to define yourself from a deep place of joy. This is what is meant by ‘follow your bliss’. This is meaning from the inside-out, not from the outside-in.

 

Paris, Pandora and paranoia

15 May

See how I jump around? Honestly. But I love this mermaid…I’ve wanted to do a picture of my oldest daughter Zoe, forever-and this is the one. So in between the Zinnia girl and the Green man popped this. I started her somewhere last week and am ready to color her in.

This pen and ink part is easy – just draw and outline like a coloring book. First in pencil, then a .25 and .35 rapidograph pen.  I had a Google image search for ‘reef fish’ on my computer screen for reference, and Pandora playing. Pandora is fabulous. A music genome project…google it. Welcome to a new addiction. Usually I draw to French café music- (I prefer background music where I do not get distracted by the lyrics, in this case, because I do not understand them.) I think French chanson also makes me feel very, well, un-Mid-western. Somehow it imparts a subtle aura of coolness which is not always present to the degree I’d like in suburban Illinois…add to this, in the afternoon, a glass of wine? Well, decadent…french coffee houses, art, Paris in the 1920’s….understandably, my Muse just binges on this. However, for reasons that I do not understand, this mermaid piece needed the support of ‘Upside Down radio’ which is a Pandora station based on the song by Jack Johnson. Hootie and the Blowfish, The Postal Service, Bob Marley- that kind of music. So that is what I’m listening to, and since it’s only 9am, no wine- I’m caffeinating however.

I am also stalling. Where it gets scary for me is now, when I begin to color in the portrait/face part. This always scares the hell out of me. Every time. Although I’ve done a million faces, it’s like I have no idea what I am doing. I have to look at other pictures I’ve done to convince myself that yes, I am capable of it. So I sit here now, very hesitant to start. I suppose it’s this excitement; the danger of messing up,  that makes me adore it and fear it so much. Eustress. What if I mess up? I will have to start again (with my microscopic attention span, this is a BIG deal) What if it looks nothing like her? What if …

Nike comes to mind as the only possible solution.

Just do it.

I pick up a marker.

Thursday

10 May

psst…. I ran again this morning…only saying because this is sooo unusual. I feel so much better- usually I wait until the end of the day when I’m tired and ready for a glass of wine. So I am trying this new approach. The app is C25K – couch to 5k – and she tells me when to walk, when to jog…brilliant.

anyway… coffee in hand, I’m in my studio this morning needing to finish up my Green Man. It’s Rob’s birthday present, which is in a couple weeks. I originally set out to do a very simple piece- and as always, there is more in the wings than I expect. I was surprised at what showed up – I only saw the green man and the knot work border. It  says ‘you are love – you are loved’ around the circle, with a very fancy scroll/leafy background. These are the things that I do not see in the ‘planning’ stages. Which is why I suppose, I love to just start with a half-formed concept – because what I did not intend is often so lovely.

I was helping my daughter last night with a homework assignment- argumentative paper on overpopulation. Her main challenge is focusing- narrowing down such a broad topic to a very specific statement which she then can argue and to which she can propose a solution. She is a very creative type and kept coming up with new ideas, new realizations of what we are doing to our beautiful planet, and as the spirit took her and she got passionate about it, it became very difficult for her to niche down and limit herself to one narrow corridor of thought. ‘ There’s just so much to say about it…’ she sighed.

I mention this because I find in the ‘real’ world, one’s ability to be specific, set goals, have a plan, to niche down, to limit oneself – is expected and encouraged. But as I sit here, half in the ‘real’ world and half in the ‘other’ world, straddling both of my hemispheres, I am choosing to be influenced by something else. I am seeking, waiting for that which pulls me out of myself – that which allows me to see countless possibilities, infinite arrangements -the clamoring of the infinite for expression in finite. It’s such a dance- to be able to be ok with uncertainty, to allow overwhelm, to sit in complete wonder at ‘what is’ and to not want to change it, just to witness it. As artists, we are surrounded and influenced by our culture, and its attachment to ego and certainty. The two killers of creativity. As artists, we hold a position that is overlooked (by ourselves and by our society) in its importance. We hold the curtain back so that others may get a glimpse of that which is beyond- to build a bridge, to help others see what we see- to look with non-physical eyes at what exists beyond our limited perceptions. We allow infinity, mystery and uncertainty into this world. As Einstein is often paraphrased- you can’t solve a problem on the level it was created – it takes new ideas, fresh thought, and inspiration to bring something new into being. Part of my job with my students is to teach them that this uncertainty is a good thing; a necessary thing. That our culture and our souls desperately need inspiration – to be filled with fresh breath, to experience the mystery of life – in addition to our amazing ability to think, to limit and define. Both halves of our brains are necessary in the curiously human ability and purpose of endlessly creating  finite expressions of the infinite – whether an English paper, a decent cup of coffee or a work of art.

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