Object Dar't

February 23, 2012

The Next Step in the Creative Process

As I go along this unknown path of making art - I tend to do a lot of examination and dissection because it's such a new and strange thing. Prior to 2 years ago, creativity for me was easy and safe. I specialized in nothing and just did what inspired me in the moment. I'd make this or do that and it'd be fabulous then I'd go on with my life until the next urge hit. I think that's how most people deal with their creativity. But making the commitment to making art on a daily basis takes courage. I've had to be willing and OK with making crap. That's a HARD thing to do when there are a lot of people watching; some of whom would relish seeing you fail. Those are the outward points of staking your claim as an artist. But the most surprising aspects are the internal, unseen things that happen.

I've written before about the dynamic of inspiration. And I'll restate that it's something unseen. This job I'm doing has me playing and practicing with this invisible force. Which when you try to convey to other people, sounds like utter madness. I'm afraid of madness. I've worked too hard for sanity. And there isn't a single atom in me that'd be ok with the world thinking I'm mad. So sometimes I don't want to say the things that I experience or think. And yet I also feel an obligation to say those things because there may be another human being out there who is just as afraid as I am. It's my obligation to encourage them and see them through it. So even at the risk of sounding utterly insane, I've decided to discuss what I've learned and experienced the past few months. *taking a deep breath*

An example of "Expression"
When I first started painting (and seriously..what is wrong with you people that you thought what I made was good or had potential!?!?), I plucked things from my heart and put them down on paper. So creativity for me began as "expression". They were things I loved, felt or recalled with longing; Paris and the Netherlands, mandalas that let out my fear.

An example of "Dictation"

Then I moved into what can only be described as "dictation." I was taking dictation of the things I saw around me and loved. I can never find the words to express how much I love being home and the feelings this place and its people stir up in me. But my paintings did albeit badly. the dictation continued and I documented all the places I was seeing. And then the fall came. My life became chaotic with the business of art and I was unable to paint for almost 2 months. Although my heart felt like it was in a vice grip, the pain of not being able to paint was tolerable because I was SO busy. I guess life decided it was a time for receiving encouragement instead. So I went with it.

Where "Translation" started

But when I returned, I found something very strange and unexpected happened. Somehow, I was no longer taking dictation. Which really upset me. I get that it's normal to freak out when something changes unexpectedly but it was more than that. The first painting I showed up to seemed to have a LOT to say. I was no longer taking dictation, I was TRANSLATING. WTH?!?! How do you translate a language you don't even know?? That first painting of the Rail Trail was far more detailed and complex than previous paintings and within it was hidden emotional commentary. It was the usual real place but I was translating that into a dissertation about an emotion. And I have to tell you - it unhinged me mentally because of my fear of madness. The painting talked (minimally) about the happy surface I was putting forward and the dark, moss covered depths that lay just under that happy surface. I saw all my pain, angst, fear and questions right there on the paper and I have to tell you that there were days I couldn't handle sitting over that painting. I guess like lots of people, I don't enjoy having my "stuff" in my face. But I got through it and thought it was just a fluke. The creative process brings things up inside you and so my thought was once it was out, it would be gone. Yeah right.

The next TWO paintings were again translation. Again, real places but within was commentary on how I was feeling about being a public figure and being watched. Both paintings have me (the pine tree) on stage separated from the crowd. The first is by moonlight which is a harsh spotlight with the tree almost frozen and lacking detail. The second seems to be acceptance of that situation; the spotlight is softer, the tree more rich and full of movement and beauty. Again - WTH?!?!? The translation continued. So much for a fluke.

I've learned now to embrace it. I can't say I like it and I certainly didn't want to tell anyone about it because who wants to be the "Insane Lady", but maybe it's important. Maybe talking about the things that happen with this invisible thing I'm playing with is something that others need to hear so that they can be more sure-footed. I still fear madness. I won't lie. The lineage of artists who've suffered madness throughout the history of man is a long and wide line. I just don't want to be counted among them. I don't know how to stave off such a fate but at the same time, denying my creativity or even trying to back it down now would cause my soul to wither and die. It has breathed such life into my existence. I am living so much more fully, feel things so much more intensely and loving to a degree that at times I'm sure my heart will explode. You can't go back to ho-hum once you've been here. You can only do ho-hum when you've never known anything else. So all I can do is continue to walk through this experience and hope for the best. I don't know what the next stage is in creativity. It'll probably unhinge me as much as all the previous stages.I make the commitment to tell you about it though. And if it brings me to the point of madness, well then I guess that'll be the lesson that was meant to be taught to whoever reads what I write; don't do what I did? ;)