Thursday, April 24, 2008

Clearly, I haven't been painting... but I've been blogging. Thank goodness for the dual nature of my creative outlets. When I can't paint, I can write. When I can't write, I can paint. Knitting is the thread that rides through all of it.

I read Virginia Woolf recently and was sent into a reverie about women being involved in Great Movements. I realized that I wasn't at all involved in anything great. I have stubbornly stayed in my own little world, trying to be great in my consistency of doing something, anything. The greatness of my movement is in getting my rear to steer toward a blank and to put a mark there.

It may be, years from now, that I am a woman involved in the Great Movement known as intuitive painting (or whatever name we are given by those we can only talk to and not hear from.) It's also possible that I have delusions about being part of something other than my small grinding efforts at a creative existence. My grandeur, it seems, may be simply in my steering: tiny adjustments in course that, over time, determine the direction of something bigger than me. Illusions? Sure, why not.

In the mean time, I must stay with my most powerful question: What's next?

A friend of my husband's is in education, mostly with writing courses. They have a technique that is working and the administration is formalizing it. I hear the death knell. Only when the forerunners of the experience are willing to ditch the good ideas for better will we progress. It is not in refining an old process that we get to the new. We have to be shallow enough to say that our brain children are "so yesterday" in order to get to tomorrow and its needs.

What works is the act of showing up. It is not a matter of technique or skill levels or teachable/learning moments. It is a matter of sincere engagement with whatever is in front of us and finding the way to give voice to our experiences.

The great movements, to me, are the ones that Ask. In retrospect, they may look like great movements with Answers, but they started and grew as questions.

Probity is the key. Oh, I looked up that word and it wasn't what I wanted at all! Probity: complete and confirmed integrity; having strong moral principles; "in a world where financial probity may not be widespread..." Or maybe it was the right word, but I was thinking about probing questions, and being a questioner. Doesn't that sound like probity?! My definition of the key: sitting with the integrity of questions.

My thanks to Julia Cameron for giving me the "What's Next?" question out of "The Artist's Way."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I took a six week painting course for using mixed media and collage in my work. It was heavenly the first day, setting time aside to be creative. It got stressful after that.

Some Saturdays I couldn't make it to the class because we didn't have enough people working the shop. Turned out most the time that was fine: One of the days we were doing encaustic (which is not my favorite in both the fumes and the results I get). One of the days was our final day, for which I would have rushed a finish and not been satisfied. Another day that I thought I was going to miss, I got to go. It turned out to be helpful in keeping me going rather than just hanging it up and going back to my thing.

So although the class didn't really work out for me, I gained several insights:

  • keep the momentum going
  • work with what you have already
And I remembered an agreement that I'd made with myself to put inclusions into my paintings that would make giclees clearly less than the original: bits of tile or gadgets or 3D something so that a photo doesn't do it for the painting.

I also learned that saying I'm going to paint every Saturday morning isn't a real life thing. I can hope to paint Saturday mornings, and some of them I will get to do so. But as with all that I've accomplished so far, it's mostly going to get done in the space between, in the time that is the gap between real events. That's when I get the really important stuff done.

I need to clean my studio, to make the space and have it available for when the time comes. I have learned that the time comes when I show up. Not being able to show up at a class taught me something about doing things another's way. I cannot.