The truth is, I’ve come to notice that most days I arrive at the studio in a bad mood.
Back when I took my first steps, Dreaming Big, this would have been anathema to me. I thought dreams, realized, meant everything was perfect. These days, I believe more in an embrace everything and be alive kind of combo.
There always seems to be a good reason for the ornery thoughts and a rubble of legitimate obstacles why creation will not be possible in the now. It was only today, starting out, that I realized the reasons really do not matter. Nor do the emotions roiling around inside of me. When I make my crickety, reluctant and bitch-all-the-way transition into Play Space, the variety of inside content becomes pure phenomena, movement, the stuff of creation.
A place to start.
No need to wait for inspiration. No need to classify, analyze or understand what is happening inside.
Then something starts happening.
Where are you starting out your creation today? What inner phenomena can you dance with [whether it’s comfy or not]?
More and more, I am becoming a fan of our shared humanity. The unpredictability of it all. The shadows behind every facade of perfection. The embarrassing truth.
In the beginning of August 2014, I was the recipient of a windfall. An opportunity to make art for a year. This was the first time since art school in 2003, that I have had a chance like this, to delve into art making with some real time. In my own art space, to boot.
Expectations soared, of course. After all, isn’t it the epitome of happiness, to be able to make art, almost full time? (I can hear the universe giggling in the background, while writing this.)
The work of an artist
What I had conveniently forgotten, of course, is the true work of an artist. To feel everything, experience all nuances of what is happening, to knock on inner doors or knock them down and drink deeply of the cup of life. Then, make art about it.
So, instead of feeling happy, suitably grateful, productive and inspired, I found myself resistant, edgy and defensive much more of the time than I thought proper.
All of my ideals of making art, all of the uplifted expectations of the artist’s life crashed head on with the raw loneliness of the studio, the reality of putting paint on canvas in a suffering world. To make art, instead of having a “real job”. There is a reason why we avoid empty space and big reaches of time. It all opens up the door to the question: Why am I here? Does anything I do matter? At all?
I asked myself repeatedly: If I feel like this while making art, what’s the point?
Vision rubbing against reality
What I’m coming to realize – excruciatingly slowly, again and again – is that there is no “there”. No perfection, no people who always succeed, no teachers who always walk their talk, no impeccable work communities, nothing finished. It makes me gag with disappointment, because the mixture of light and dark is so heady, hard to comprehend. But there is some relief, as well. Nothing has gone wrong. I can stay in this discomfort, aware of the temptation to seek solid ground and just hang out with the raw and tender moment.
As preparation for a workshop on empty space in the creative process, I have been on a partial media diet. No tv-series, no Facebook article browsing, no reading, no newspapers and so on.
The silence is astounding.
Of course, it wasn’t at first. Because what happens when we stop, clear the space and surrender to it? Everything rushes in. All the denied, pushed away, ignored aspects of the inner world are there, in our faces.
This time, though, it was curiously impersonal.
All the usual suspects, particular to this personality make up of mine, were there: “You’re no good. There is something wrong with you. You’re not normal. Nothing matters. You should just get a real job.”
But come on. Twenty-five years of inner work later, they are still the same. My shadow, my fears and doubts, the scars, the wounds. It is just thinking. So I gather them into my lap, embrace them, and we sit in the empty space together. Watching snowflakes fall against the backlight of a rising sun.
Sending you a whiff of peace, where ever you are in your life, today.