Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Letting Go

Interviewer: “Master, how did you think of the divine motif of your Ninth Symphony?”

Anton Bruckner: “I sat down by a little brook, unpacked my Swiss cheese, and that darn tune popped into my head!”

Sometimes we simply think too much. I’ve written about being aware of your thoughts. But sometimes (more often than not) our minds are so consumed with what we’ve done or what we are going to do that we completely miss out on what is happening to us (in us) at the moment. Precious creative ideas can breeze right on by us and we miss out on them completely. This is a tragedy for an artist.

Bruckner’s account of opening a package of cheese only to encounter his brilliant Ninth Symphony is a perfect illustration. All he was thinking about was opening his lunch and voila! Genius knocked on the door! Do you have to “be” a genius for those moments to appear? I highly doubt it. I believe that we just need to be “aware” of the possibilities in the moment and be watching for them.

It is true that we need to practice our craft, be it painting, playing an instrument, writing, etc. We need to nurture our creative nature by “breathing in” the wonders of life. We need not be self-consumed. However, we do need to care for our body (one person calls it his “earth suit”), our mind and our spirit if we are to do our best at anything. But let’s face it…we too often allow our minds to become cluttered with too much random, useless and repetitive information. This is a bad habit that creates “busy-ness”, clouds our judgments and creates confusion. It is a huge distraction. In short, it makes us miserable.

I would like to suggest that the next time you sit down to create, whatever that may be, try to clear your mind of thoughts of the day’s trouble. Let go of yesterday and worries about tomorrow. Be present in the moment of your creative “right now”. Just let it all go and see what happens.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Metaphorically Speaking...

“No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.”
Edward Hopper

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Albert Einstein

I love a good story. I can't really sit and tell stories like some of my amazing friends can. I love to sit at their feet and breathe in their imagination. It takes little effort for me to visualize the characters, the places, the atmosphere…I can almost decipher the fragrance of each new scene. It’s my favorite thing to do…listen to a good storyteller.

I dabble in poetry. I don’t profess to be a “poet”, but being a musician, I love to express myself with rhythm. I confess that I am easily enamored by a good word-smither. I will drink in line after line before I fall asleep at night and create the images in my mind while the words float across my thoughts and I drift off to somewhere other than the worries of my day. Poetry makes me smile. My poetry is very personal. And as I have said, I rarely share it with anyone.

Metaphor is something I habitually incorporate into my paintings. It’s just a thing for me. I have always done it. I know artists who don’t see the value in it. “Art for Art’s Sake” and all that. And I appreciate where they are coming from. But if I am going to be honest with my work, I need to work from my heart and my heart loves story. So…story finds home in my paintings on a regular basis.

I don’t always share what the personal metaphor is when asked. I prefer to listen to the viewer’s impression…their story. I learn so much from listening. Besides, my interpretation changes like the wind. Seriously. I think it is about one thing…then something happens in my life and voila…the painting is singing a different tune all together. It’s funny in a kind of marvelously mysterious way.

I did a painting of sunflowers years ago. Each one had their own personality. Pretty soon, I found myself attributing each blossom to a girlfriend. Before you know it, the painting was about my relationships and the goings on within our little group of the “Ya-Ya Sisterhood”. I still love that painting.

When you get accustomed to viewing artwork with “metaphor” or “story” in mind, the artwork becomes alive and pertinent. I highly recommend it.