Friday, November 21, 2008

One thousand arrows point to the uninitiated

Freedom is available to you if you want it. If you will allow it in. Freedom is so revered and yet so feared. Most of the obstacles I put in my life are of my own creation. Most of the limits I put on my art are as well. Realizing this is a huge step and at the same time it seems so obvious.

I know I am free to make and do any type of art I want and that you the viewers, the readers, the gallery owners and the patrons will go along for the ride. The work will either be appreciated or it won't- and that is all there is to it.But now what to do? Sometimes all this freedom seems too much.

Right now everything feels like a riddle as I paint the works for my show "Fire and Noise." The original goal was to create art with more "me" in it or more meaning that was personal to me. People have encouraged me to express what is within, but they also offer conflicting advice to try it this way or think of it that way, use these colors but not these, remember this and explore that and don't rely on this familiar device but do make it easy on yourself, let go but perhaps just not like that.I know they are trying to help me reach deeper within and offer guidance as well as new ways of thinking about the problem.

They sense that I am frustrated and searching or that I am holding something back, and they are not wrong. One of my favorite Interpol songs, has the line "I have seven faces, thought I knew which one to wear..." and this has always resonated with me. When I am painting I tend to try too hard to maintain just one of the seven faces and I box myself into a corner. With the knowledge of true freedom comes the ability to put on the other six faces. I worry that if left to my own devices my work could become inconsistent or groundless and this is uncomfortable to me. I then start listening to all the voices around me and become overwhelmed.

Just as things seem to work on a Monday, they can also fade away by Thursday and I am back at square one. What am I after? I sometimes feel like an actor asking "now, what's my motivation?"

As I was working yesterday, trying to express something (something = the true problem, it seems my signal got jammed this week, it started off questionable and bleak, then moved into useful and familiar and then got so filtered and watered down that somewhere I lost it), I found myself attacking the surface with pencil and scrubbing pad, marks and words.The surface was absent of color, and it was so many things I wasn't, so unsatisfactory. The end result was like a piece of forgotten homework left in a mud puddle. Tomorrow I will go back to retrieve it, and I will attempt to return to the pure state I used to know, where color meets color and perhaps nothing more.

I will step once again into the fire and noise, and attempt to deflect all one thousand arrows...


  1. it is hard to pull away, or rather find more within, because you can only go so far before the automatic safety device kicks in to save you..
    it's like learing to walk the high rope without a safety net..
    but how high do you dare to go..

    every painting i approach with this 'pushing' approach.. only to get so far and try a grab the old familiar..

    but it is the little earthquakes along the way that you need to remember, these are what are important..

  2. Very deep today M :)
    When I get like this it reminds me of Old Possums book of Practical Cats - The Rum Tum Tugger particularly...
    I was reading a book by the creativity coach Eric Maisel last night and found this sentence among one of the last chapters: "The dream is like the helium balloon and the reality like the string." I guess this sums up the struggle between the dream and the reality-checking. To be successful and balanced we can't be a dreamer only, or a reality-checker only...
    Thanks for sharing your week - it makes us relieved we're not alone :)

  3. Making art, making art that is different from what you are so used to making is not an easy thing to do. You should applaud yourself for even just stepping out and trying something new.
    Try not to listen too carefully to what everyone is telling you.

    Whoa...I totally didn't mean for all of that to rhyme like that...

    Anyway, I know that for myself, this is all part of the process. Making mistakes, hating what you are working on...
    I find that I learn so much about myself and my work when I try to attempt something that I am not accustomed to.
    Keep going. Push, make mistakes, hate everything your making, and I am sure you are going to discover what it is you are looking for :)

    Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Wow...never thought about this, but I can sort of relate to the difficulty in finding a solid unified vision while your mind wants to veer off and explore other styles. I can't even imagine working on a show. Best of luck!

  5. Hello Megan,

    Baptism by Fire

    Is remarkable. If nothing else, you have created 'Baptism by Fire', frustration aside.

    Judging by all the other work I've seen of yours, this departure could not have been very easy, nor easily repeatable. Hang tough, as usual. The fact that you've already produced a couple 'aces' may mean that it was a welcome change in either mask or objective, so a little bump is to be expected, perhaps...

    Don't you love the ancillary amendments such as "let go but perhaps just not like that"? Help can be such a delicate treatise. Let at least one arrow draw blood to meet your color; that mask is a grand one you wear well. Happy painting today!


  6. Thanks everyone. You are a beautiful and perceptive group of people.

    I just wanted to let you know that writing this post was like performing an exorcism and today I am painting some things that I can truly feel and that I know are authentic to me and it is very reassuring.

    Thanks always for reading and for your support...

  7. I love that line, "The end result was like a piece of forgotten homework left in a mud puddle."

    And those lyrics, too. My take is how I do have seven faces, or maybe seven-thousand faces. Or roles.

    Picking just one? Impossible.

  8. I love the painting here. Pretty colors. Awesome work. Keep up the great work. :)

  9. Sometimes, mostly always I am at odds with myself over what my hands create.

    I think you are so lucky you are able to clearly write about all of this. Every time I read one of your posts I find myself nodding in agreement (like one of those silly dogs with the wobbly heads people have in their cars, or maybe we only have them in New Zealand)? Anyway I don't think I could ever put into words my creative process like you can.



  10. I just love your stories with your paintings.