"No matter how much we may know about an artist..."

Received this quote via text this morning, from one of my dearest and longest standing patrons who knows me deeply. It perfectly captures the essence of the artistic life and work. And your response to my work helps me define and contextualize it. The resonance of what is revealed infuses breath as much as the creative process does. And yet, the piece never feels at its fullest. There is still a concealing. "No matter how much we may know about an artist, what an artist creates can never be fully explained. This is both a gift and a challenge of the creative process: there is a tension between what is revealed and what is concealed. The work of our hands bears the imprint of its maker and the One who moves within its making. What we create contains a measure of who we are. Even as it carries our secrets, it also has messages and meanings to convey." In the Sanctuary of Women By Jan L. Richardson

On Daybook

I can't put this book down, a sort of artist's memoir. Anne Truitt's Daybook. These three quotes, who rolled together in just a few pages, have haunted me:

I do not understand why I seem able to make what people call art. For many long years I struggled to learn how to do it, and I don’t even know why I struggled. Then, in 1961, at the age of forty, it became clear to me that I was doing work I respected within my own strictest standards . Furthermore, I found this work respected by those whose understanding of art I valued. My first, instinctive reaction to this new situation was, if I’m an artist, being an artist isn’t so fancy because it’s just me. But now, thirteen years later, there seems to be more to it than that. It isn’t “just me.” A simplistic attitude toward the course of my life no longer serves.  Truitt, Anne (2013-10-08). Daybook, Turn, Prospect: The Journey of an Artist (Kindle Locations 209-214). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

The pressure to earn a living confronts a fickle public taste. Artists have to please whim to live on their art. They stand in fearful danger of looking to this taste to define their working decisions. Sometime during the course of their development, they have to forge a character subtle enough to nourish and protect and foster the growth of the part of themselves that makes art, and at the same time practical enough to deal with the world pragmatically. They have to maintain a position between care of themselves and care of their work in the world, just as they have to sustain the delicate tension between intuition and sensory information. This leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that artists are, in this sense, special because they are intrinsically involved in a difficult balance not so blatantly precarious in other professions. Truitt, Anne (2013-10-08). Daybook, Turn, Prospect: The Journey of an Artist (Kindle Locations 221-226). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

What worries me is that I try so hard to be sensitive to the variations in my energy level, and fail so often. It frightens me that my children’s security is dependent on my unsturdy, unstable body. Also, the preemptive images that present themselves to me in my conception of my work are on a scale way out of proportion to my capacity to bring them into being. Truitt, Anne (2013-10-08). Daybook, Turn, Prospect: The Journey of an Artist (Kindle Locations 232-235). Scribner. Kindle Edition. 

Summer of Discovery

  • Gathering shells to bring home inhales and exhales of our beloved ocean.
  • Counting the collection of shark teeth.
  • Learning to love fresh in-season veggies.
  • Finding a pace by painting in small squares.
  • Looking long into the mirror of the "Highly Sensitive Person;" seeing myself there, all of me.
  • Inhaling the words of Elaine Aron, Juliet Benner, Kelly Schneider Conkling, and Richard Rohr.
  • Stretching my hand to those last few inches to grasp my own visual voice.
  • Stumbling upon "visio divina."
  • Being present.
  • Art as prayer.
  • Centering prayer.
  • Soul-scapes.

I can still feel the shifting and settling deep down below the surface. The whispered discoveries. The lists of truth. The pages of illumination.

Words to Paint By

"The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby." Isabel Allende

Why the Silence?

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. Even the great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude.”

~Eckhart Tolle from The Power of Now

But you can't hear the noise.

A regular day in the studio:

  • a bottle of water
  • an idea worth committing to
  • fast-flowing and time-muting noise

I'd heard of creative "flow" but didn't know what it was until the day I realized I couldn't stand working with noise. I mean, I tried building my own soundtracks to sort of mimic the emotion of that day's piece. And when the music became distracting, I turned to podcasts. Then realized my inability to actually absorb the charlie-brown-teacher-wah-wah-wah prattle of conversation.

I thought I needed to fill the silence.

Then I gave up on filling the silence, and boy did those creative synapses in my brain start firing. That "fast-flowing and time-muting noise" all happens in my head. My neurons DANCE when the studio is quiet.

And so it goes: