Can’t seem to find my feet this week, although it was long anticipated for having 4 long days with a totally quiet house. 😉 Serves me right for making plans. Mind you, nothing prevents me from carrying them out, besides myself!
I started with 2 headachy days, then I noticed something was wrong with one of the kittens. At 6 in the morning just as the car was about to leave the premises. It happens a lot around here, has for years, I must have the sickest pets on the planet. And I worry every minute of the day(s) until it’s over, big issue or small, feeling a hurt deep inside. There must be some lesson in this for me, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is. Except to stop worrying, but all my rational thoughts fail to make a lasting impression so far. So that’s one thread of distraction, pulling a whole wad of strings with it. In fact I got so wound up with all the hasty new arrangements, crashing traffic rules to get to the train unexpectedly etc. I could not face the act of shopping for my 4 day isolation, having the car and all. Well, there’s coffee…
It’s a cold week, so I have to pile on clothes. Another distraction for my already scattered mind. Getting covered in cat hair from all the healthy ones suddenly lining up to sleep on me whenever I think of standing up to practise varnishing a picture (try doing that covered in hair!) Change sweater, repeat. Don’t indulge them I’m told. But if, then, why do I even have pets? (I do know why they want me, I’m the warmest dry spot in the house after a romp in the rain)
When I worry I also begin to doubt everything. Why I do any of the things I do, how I pretend to imagine there is even a path and a purpose to be revealed. I still want to do them, but I question my motivation, my skills (always), and most of all the importance. It makes no difference in the world if I make pictures all day or just eat cake. Tomorrow I could win the lottery or die and anything in between. And some days I find that highly exciting and motivating, when I worry I’m certain that what WILL happen tomorrow is in fact absolutely nothing. You know, the old “all is vanity and chasing the wind” theme. (of course, most days nothing really does happen, at least on its own accord or any differently than the day before)
Sigh. Last week I began writing a very enthusiastic blog post about my progress in keeping up the creative work every day, eliminating excess activities to give me focus, succesfully ignoring noise and distraction, having talked down some of my fears and self criticism. Ha. Can you spell H U B R I S ? Well, at least I’m getting instant feedback on some issues. XD No need to even go public with it first! But now I’m telling you anyway to make the humiliation complete, like.
Another gorgeous day to look at after a stormy Saturday by the sea. It’s still painfully cold, but the sun, ah, the sun! Makes me feel like this: (remember to turn up your speakers)
So I mentioned a picture book about my Charlie and how I’ve had the title ready for years but not really getting any further ideas. Well, after going public with it, suddenly little sentences are plopping into my head while I’m driving, when I wake up, nothing to make a Stephen King sized novel, but quite amazing considering my brain has been on strike for so long. Trickle is fine, I still have all the artwork to do. 😉
I’ve also experienced lately how communicating openly about various issues, such as carrying an emotional trauma in my body from multiple “rodeo” incidents in the last 10 years that were both shocking and painful (no, not Charlie’s doing), makes the whole issue, not solved and gone but somewhat deflated, a lot calmer and slightly more rational. Simply by acknowledging, to myself not the least, that the problem exists. I had been putting that one at the bottom of my list of “things to work with” and suddenly realised it might actually belong somewhere at the top (or I just finally got ready to deal with it – long story that I’m not going to bore you with)
This is very interesting to me – how speaking your intention out loud apparently sets wheels in motion that just thinking and worrying in your own head doesn’t. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But it’s something I’m going to play with. A new level of honesty – not that I lie, but there’s lots I don’t tell for various reasons. Or I gloss over problems: real horsegurlz aren’t scared of anything, right? What is also interesting about this concept is whether it sharpens my own resolve, focus, ability to see the path. Will my words and thoughts about subjects become less fuzzy and click into place? I’m sure we could all use more clarity from time to time, or am I the only one who has no clue where I’m headed and what my “calling” might be?
To be continued – a storm of comments are as always welcome.
Heidi asked what my thoughts (and actions) were on conquering the fear of white canvasses. So I thought I’d give it a go and see if summing it up would help myself in the process too! And of course it’s a process, not a one-step fix. I probably won’t get it all in one blog post either…
I think the problem for most people is the illusion that they need to be perfect. At once. Always. Don’t get me wrong, I think art is something to be dead serious about, just imagine a world entirely without it! Well, No, right? Well, say hello to the World Champion of perfectionists. I know exactly, inside my head, what I want my stuff to look like. And if I can’t pull it off in first try (usually I can’t), I resign, tell myself I have no talent in this area and sulk about it. A lot. It’s even been a motto thoughout my life, “if I can’t do something really well, I won’t do it at all, and if I can’t have what I want, I don’t want anything”.
Lately I seem to have changed. I still want to be good and I have very high standards for it. But the concept of “practice” has suddenly dawned on me. Oh, I knew that old proverb, but really, it didn’t seriously apply to myself. Now I’m suddenly game to give it a try. Worst that can happen is – well, at least more will happen than before, when I didn’t do anything but wait for the perfect moment, running over the theory in my head (my version of practice). I might even have fun along the way.
Are you still hesitating? Break it into small steps. Arrange every step to be a succes in itself, be satisfied with your progress even before you get to the actual creating. Buy supplies, arrange a workspace so your supplies are there and ready, allow yourself to be fearful, push and rest, advance and retreat. Doodle a bit, go to an art exhibition, make really silly collages from magazines if that seems like a smaller step than brush on canvas. Tell yourself you’re just going to paint a nice background to get some colour happening. Don’t overly pressure yourself, nor let yourself get away with excuses forever.
Of course, some people like to just jump in, but they’re not reading this. It’s ok to sneak up on the action so to speak if that makes you more comfortable. What set me in motion and gave me a new urge to paint again, was learning to spin in 2011. I suddenly rediscovered the joy of working with my hands, not just my head, after years of photoshopping and Flash animating. My creativity suddenly woke up after being near dead for a couple of years (not good when you are a self employed graphic designer) and suddenly I had all these visions about colour and yarn designs and all sorts of things. Sometimes what you need to get the spark going is not even related to where you want to go!
So, what are some of the excuses the mind comes up with to postpone the moment of “failure”?
Equipment costs a lot of money.
I don’t have enough room in my house.
The kids (husband, cats) won’t leave me alone.
I’m exhausted today (again).
I have no time.
And the classic:
6. I don’t have any ideas….
Yes, it does. You can get cheap acrylics and low quality canvases at the supermarket from time to time, you can paint on almost any paper, doesn’t have to be 300g acid free watercolour paper straight off the mark. You don’t really need an easel, technically you can just cover a table in old newspapers. I always put nails in the wall and hung my frames on those. But even so, a decent starter collection of stuff does make a dent in your budget unless you have stuff from 20 years back stored in the garage like I did (and then I still spent some on this and that. And strangely enough, when you begin using it, it’ll be gone and you need more). But you have to make a decision. If you want to paint, you do need colours of some kind and a surface to put them on. Easier if you want to write, if you’re reading this I assume you have a computer, so you don’t even need pen and paper (although it actually does give another perspective on the process to handwrite from time to time)
Paint smaller. Something that fits your chosen table, see note #1. Keep your paints in a handy box or suitcase that you can get out in a jiffy and get cracking.
I don’t have human kids, but I imagine this can put quite a damper on your ambitions. I hate being interrupted when I finally get started and focused on something, impossible to stay in the mood! Or have someone stand behind me and just watch. I don’t have a lot of advice to offer I’m afraid, if you can’t train the kids to give you an hour in peace, or their other parent to deal with them, their grandparents to pick them up for the weekend, you might want to cover the whole room in newspaper and give them their own brush and paper. My solution to a small house and a chatty partner has been earplugs and mental blinders. Even if I feel eyes on my back, if I do not want to take a break I.DO.NOT.TURN.
THIS. I suffer from headaches, back aches, chronic fatigue among other annoying things for years. BUT. Another reason you are feeling tired might be the lack of creativity in your life. Art gives you energy, excuses and avoidance drains it. For real. See if your head doesn’t clear and your confidence gets a boost simply from that one victory of starting your first painting. Then have tea, pat yourself on the back, take a nap and have another go.
Do you ever watch tv? Do you have to? I mean, is there really, really ever anything on that is more important than painting? Your choice…
So you have no ideas? So why do you even want to make art? Like me, you probably can’t answer the last question, you just do. No matter how you try to be sensible, it keeps sneaking up on you, the urge, the dreaming. I think the more we keep telling ideas that they don’t exist, the more they’ll oblige. Leave the door wide open and they begin to trickle back in, soon you’ll be flooded if you let them come. In fact, you may have too many ideas and postpone acting because you can’t pick the best one, because you fret about all the ones you didn’t pick. What I discovered is, you don’t have to finish all of them. Just acknowledging them by writing them down in a notebook with a few strokes of crayon, is enough to satisfy your creative mind. Most of those ideas never get any further, but by taking note, you keep the flow coming in, and you free your mind of clutter that prevents you from focusing on one project at a time (ok, 2 or 3 is ok, right?). You’ll find that some ideas survive, others are no longer as important, they’ve done their job. Still not working? Go on expeditions, see something new. Take the kids to the zoo, they’ll be exhausted and sleep early, so you get a few hours to paint your impressions of the day.
Then after you’ve inched your way towards action, no more excuses, it’s all sitting there, ready for the taking, staring you in the face, be aware of the following facts.
Rule #1: There will be obstacles. Such as, to mention a few: You finally get your A into G, plastic on the wall so you don’t splatter, jars for water, paper towels within reach. And then you discover that A. your ultramarine is not in as good shape after 10 years in the garage as you thought it was, B. most of your brushes leak hairs and dust like mad, completely ruining your canvas at first stroke (this is where the paper towels come in) C. you really need a waste bin for those paper towels. And more water for all those dusty brushes. You probably should have changed your clothes too. Oh well, and that plastic sheet on the wall could be a large contributor to all that dust, find a roll that hasn’t been in the garage or under hubby’s bed (or wherever he kept the darn thing).
Rule #2: There are no rules. A colour you dislike can be painted over as many times as you like. The painting can be turned upside down halfway through the process (any time during the process, actually 😉 ) You can use both hands, one at a time or simultaneously. Give it a go, paint with your “other” hand, kick logic up its backside.
Rule #3: Creativity is not linear or schematic. You need to listen to and follow your impulses. Even if it means that after a week of setting up your painting workspace, you have a sudden urge to spin purple yarn or rearrange your kitchen cabinets. Follow the flow. Sometimes the first step in a new project is finishing an old one! Art is not a job, don’t restrict yourself to one form just because you’ve decided you should. Life and your subconscious will tell you where to go next, even if it seems erratic. Now, if something tells you that you need to finish ALL your house chores before you’re allowed to paint, that is not your subconscious speaking, it’s your mum, and she ought to go and mind her own business.
Rule #4: Don’t talk, just do it. And keep doing it, no matter what rule #1 throws at you.
Want some quick and easy ways to start playing, making art with no ambition of succes whatsoever, just fun? While I was writing this and in the process of testing my oil paints I remembered all sorts of little tricks, in fact so many that I’ll save them for another post. Stay tuned!
(som sædvanlig en ikke særlig ordret oversættelse fra engelsk…)
Nogen gange tager vi kreativitet alt for seriøst og kommer ingen vegne fordi vi helst vil forudsige resultatet inden vi overhovedet er kommet i gang, og det skal naturligvis helst være “perfekt”.
Og så kommer vi aldrig i gang med fx. at male, vi snakker bare om det i årevis, køber måske lidt pensler og farve i ny og næ når vi fristes i butikken, men det perfekte øjeblik at gå i gang opstår på forunderlig vis aldrig af sig selv.