Monday, April 12, 2010

Creative U-Turn

Julia Cameron, in The Artist's Way, talks about Creative U-Turns.

They are described as self-inflicted sabotage resulting from fear of failure or success. They are designed to get us off-track in order to protect us from....what? From whatever sorts of frightening things being creative can bring up. Debilitating perfectionism? Criticism? Life changes?

An artistic U-turn arrives on a sudden wave of indifference. We greet our newly minted product or our delightful process with 'Aw, what does it matter anyhow? It's just a start. Everybody else is so much further ahead...' In dealing with creative U-Turns, we must first of all extend to ourselves sympathy. Creativity is scary.

She goes on to describe examples of creative U-turns, and boy, do I recognize myself in there.

I didn't think I was scared to do something as simple as post a small painting every week. But clearly, I am. Scared enough to stop if I think I can't pull it off well enough. I think what is scaring me the most is how nothing is coming out the way I want it to. I think something in me actually thought if I just took the leap, and started to paint, I would begin creating marvelous pieces. Some sort of miracle would occur. People would say: My God! You just started? It looks exactly like Matt James! And he's been painting for years.
(Aside: PLEASE do NOT feel as if you need to send me all sort of messages/emails of encouragement following this post. I am not fishing for any sort of compliment, just needing to openly share where I'm at at this stage of the game. Insert smiley face.)

My creative U-Turns take the form of getting so wrapped up in envisioning the finished product and then when it takes longer than I'd like for it to manifest, the joy it used to bring me evaporates, leaving me with a sort of bleak resentment.

And then I bail.

But here's the other thing, the underneath thing that is making me slightly anxious about this project: I don't exactly HAVE any extra creative time lying around. Not even, as it turns out, on Sundays. In an attempt to not have Ella, my 4-year-old smudge her little fingers through my wet paint, I have been trying to find time alone to carry out my painting commitment. But the truth is, if I'm going to get any painting done, I'm going to have to do it with my kids around.

And so I see my reasons for sabotage. The first - fear - can't be fixed.

"We cannot escape fear." Susan Jeffers says in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. "We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our existing adventures."

The other reason - my admission that if I am to get any painting done it needs to be done with my kids - is manageable. Might even turn out to be a beautiful process. Messy, but beautiful.

I'm going to need some painting aprons or something.

And so on I go...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Enough said.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Painting #10

Okay. So I cheated a little this week. It came of bad time management, of spending too much of my Sunday sorting out my desk (I should have put it on my "later list", but it's gotten terribly long these days and a messy desk just sort of sneaks up on you and suddenly screams: Your life will be a creative/emotional/mental mess until you tidy me!!!!

In the tidying, I happened to go through an old box of photographs. Many of them were taken with film during a photo workshop 6 winters ago. I loved this proof sheet of a series of shots taken of my daughter, then two years old, on a cold March afternoon when the light was just right.

I sat with the box of photos for awhile and then decided to pin this one up on my bulletin board. Painting wise, nothing came that day but this forgotten proof sheet - of my baby girl on the stairs, on the bed, by the window - felt like enough.

(Okay, okay. I'll do two next week.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Painting #8

Last Sunday's painting was so dull, I had nothing to say. I'd been trying to get the effect of something I'd seen in a fancy home-decorating magazine. The result was that the whole process lacked that sense of letting loose, surrendering to process.

This past Sunday's was more enjoyable. Although I feel I am still miles away from painting the things I see in my head, I feel it is important to continue. A few synchronistic events have conspired to keep me going. A wonderful BOOK I stumbled across in the bookstore makes me feel like I could paint (and write) for days. Maira Kalman illustrated The Elements of Style, I discovered, and I'm not surprised, as I was always drawn to that cover.

Also, Iryn and I took a little stroll through a wonderful local art gallery and were both very inspired. I find I am more drawn to art that feels loose and childlike rather than tight, orderly lines. Also, I've decided I'm going to get out the hand sander and try sanding the backgrounds one of these days...

This one is a little "Dr. Seuss", n'est-ce pas?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I got a blog award!

Yay! My first blog award! Yes, it was given to me by my good friend Elle at ElleStraussBooks (who posted THIS BRILLIANT SPEECH called "Dare to Suck"-very timely I might add, since my last painting did not turn out the way I wanted it to) and YES, she may be then ONLY person leaving comments in the comments section as of yet, but I still appreciate it!

The way it works is I am supposed to tell you 7 random things about ME, and then pass the award on the 7 other bloggers.

So here goes:

1. I drink tea non-stop throughout the day and get a little panicky if I go too long without it. (It's not the caffeine, it's something about having a warm cup in my hands)
2. I will never under any circumstances eat balogne.
3. I am a great speller, but just realized I'm not really sure how to spell balogne. Balogna? Balonie? Hmm...
4. My husband put me on a cheese budget because I LOVE CHEESE! (Cheese toast, cheese omelette, cheese and crackers, cheese sprinkled on salad....cheese gumbo, cheese kabobs, coconut cheese, pineapple cheese)
5. I panic a little in the toilet paper aisle of the grocery store. Do I buy the 12-pack with 2-ply or the 8 pack with 4-ply, or Jumbo rolls, or the cheap stuff or the really fluffy stuff? agh!!!!!)
6. My favorite band is the Weakerthans.
7. I like to garden but so far I am not very good at it and last year I killed all my cucumbers.

I have decided that I will pass this award on to the writers of the blogs I visit most frequently so you can discover them too...

1. Jen at her lovely blog where she posts random things about life.
2. Keri at her fabulous and fun playground.
3. Mel at Little Girl in the Big City
4. Andrea at Superhero Journal
5. My beloved sisters at Shutter Sisters photo blog
6. Ridiculously amazing artist mom Amanda Blake Soule at Soulemama
7. Another FABULOUS blog I visit most frequently

See you Sunday~

Monday, February 8, 2010

Painting #6

Sunday was spent laid up in bed with a horrible migraine all day. I'd been having the "day in bed" fantasy again - I was feeling overwhelmed by all the kid and home stuff. I think there should be a centre where women can check themselves in a few times a year when they feel they are on the edge of losing it. I guess I got my wish, but not exactly the way I wanted. Fortunately, C was home to take care of the girls. In the evening, when I felt slightly recovered and staggered out in my pyjammas to get some food, Ella was affectionate and lovey, and brought me a gift bag.

"It's for you", she said.

I opened it to find two of the photos from our photo album glued to a piece of computer paper. Around the pictures she had drawn scribbly music notes with a thick black marker.

My first instinct was to correct her--I've told both the girls not to make crafts with the photos because I want them to stay there in the book where we can look at them whenever we want. But I couldn't do it. She had given it to me so sweetly and earnestly.

I looked at the photos. They were familiar. One of me 3 months postpartum, tired-looking and still carrying some extra pregnancy weight. I have Ella in my arms and I'm leaning down to kiss her face. The other photograph is of her and I on her first Christmas. I'm not wearing any makeup and I think I've just woken up. I look exhausted. Ella is snuggled against my shoulder. I am smiling slightly for the camera.

Lately I've been plagued by all sorts of thoughts: about how I have not done nearly enough with my life, about how I wish I could give my kids a better upbringing--trees to play in instead of just a small yard, animals instead of just the visiting stray cats. Aren't kids supposed to have a tree house and hills to play in? Isn't that the way the story is supposed to go?

Later, after the girls were in bed and I was feeling a wee bit better, I slumped around the house picking up toys, stray socks, bits of leggo. I saw the piece of paper with the photographs glued to it again. I picked it up. I didn't have enough time with her, was all I could think as I looked at her little baby face. I was so divided when she was born. I wasn't as present as I would have liked to have been.
Then, it was as if a kind, gentle voice said: Look. She drew music notes around the edges. She's trying to tell you that you are like music to her.

I started to cry. Because life some days feels like anything but music. At least yesterday did.

Today feels a little lighter, and althought I still feel a little shakey, I think I am on the mend.

I think that is why I am here painting. Van Gogh said "Could I not be of use and good for something? a picture I wish to say something that would console as music does."

Painting consoles me. As I painted this morning, I felt something being made right inside me.