Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yesterday I painted during my 3-6:00 dedicated time at the shop. The Critic showed up (my internal editor) and said a few things about my efforts. First I heard, "I've forgotten how to paint." Then I heard a sneer and, "As if I ever knew how to paint in the first place." I recognized these unkindnesses for what they were (fluff and fear) and painted anyway.

Later, an ole guy came in for airplane parts (he's known us for three years, now) and observed that I knew how to paint. Yup. He asked if any of my work was in the shop (oh, just on all the walls here), so I showed him the portrait of David.
He harumphed and said that he guessed I just about nailed a likeness. Then I showed him the abstract in process that was right in front of him. He violently turned away and said, "oh no, no, that's not for me. I never figured out what that's all about."

Apparently, for this man, if you can't figure it out, it doesn't exist in front of you. Even for three years.

A customer came in and looked at the works in progress and gave me his opinion: "Well, you just let it all hang out, don't you?"

The next blow came in an email from my dad, who is babysitting one of my paintings. Dad intended to compliment it, but ended his comments with

I never thought Picasso had the right idea,

even as successful as he was!

So, in one day, I had been told by myself, a curmudgeon, and my father that abstract painting is impossible, invisible exhibitionism, pointless, and just plain the wrong idea.

Phew. That's a lot of creative poison. But leave it to my really old friend Lao Tzu to have the antidote. My translation from the Tao Te Ching says:

A good artist lets his intuition

lead him wherever it wants.

This was exactly what I needed to hear. The intuition (no wonder I call it intuitive painting!) gets to take the lead. It's not about what I want (acceptance, popularity, big bucks...) It's about wherever the intuition leads me.

Well, that's a relief. Now if I get the wrong idea, I can blame my intuition.

Said another way, here is an alternative definition of the Law of Attraction from the blog The Compassionate Eye:

instead of trying to attract something to ourselves, we are invited to surrender to the Presence that is seeking to make itself known in and through us

So, yes, I guess I do let it all hang out. And maybe that is exactly what is needed of me.


Dianne McNaughton said...

Dear Charlie, thanks for your supportive words! Why is there always so much to do that takes us away from our painting.
What you say regarding the "internal critic" is so valid. I sometimes look at my work and wonder how anyone else can possibly respond to it, many people are unable to get that visceral response that abstract art can stimulate. I have just read an amazing book, "The Zen of Creative Painting" by Jeanne Carbonetti. She describes how different character types respond to different styles of painting and some of us artists just have to paint in an abstract way, we cant help ourselves! keep painting!

steve said...

BTW, The David absolutely captures his likeness and spirit, though that was clearly not your point.

It think it's a given that carmudgeons and fathers are not fit to comment on things abstract. As for your inner Critic? Well, I'm sure Picasso had one, but was deaf to it.

Keep doing it.

mrs. tioli said...

Thanks, guys.

So, I wonder if we have stumbled on the answer to VanGogh's ear aversion? It was the voices!!!

I suppose the poison did its work since I didn't bother painting last Monday. My excuse was quarterly tax paperwork. I probably would have been healthier if I'd stopped the papers and started up with paints.

Lesson learned.