Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Myth of Perfection and How it Kills Creativity and Productivity

Just finished paintings handing on the wall beside framer's corners. Boxes still unpacked but needing more storage and shelving. This is not a perfect studio, it's a working studio.

Perfection has always been a nasty task master and one in which nothing you do is good enough so you never do anything. Period. For the longest time I had imagined a studio that was just for it's own usage. And I got one back in the 90's but due to illness I lost it (and my house). When I finally began painting again it was in a multi-use room and I was outgrowing it very quickly. The cat even seemed to be looking at me sideways, seemingly tired of having to pussy-foot around everything (pun intended).

Well, I finally have a designated area again for my work and I noticed a peculiar idea or thought kept coming around. It was the idea that somehow, I should have everything already settled - a place for everything and everything in it's place and I wasn't measuring up. Now don't get me wrong, I am actually inclined to being quite organized, so what was this about?

Upon further internal inquiry I realized, it was just fear. Fear of economic hardship, of failure in all it's guises. Somehow, pre-occupation with organization and feeling bad about not meeting some predetermined idea of how my space, my studio and all that is entailed in that should function and be. It was seeping in and blocking me from actually DOING things. I have enough road blocks to deal with (like continuing chronic health issues that keep me out of the studio) so I sure as heck didn't need this. This fear was keeping me from doing new works of art, continuing to explore and produce and instead I was getting further entangled in the never-ending stream of paper work, organizing of studio, of my laptop desktop, of my paints, you name it I could go on and on. What I realized is this. That, of course, I need to be organized enough to know where everything is (generally) what needs to be done (today, tomorrow, next week, this month, etc.) and I have implemented a day minder binder for that (that I made from an old binder and outputting pages from ical) and have a year at a glance wall calendar (ical again to the rescue). Shelving needs to be ordered and put up but that's not going to make me be more productive, really. It's just going to suck even more hours away from studio time. The key is prioritization not more organization.

So, I have posted my art studio for all to see. As you can see it's being used, not sitting pretty for a photo op shot (though that would be okay too). It's amazing that fear can be so subtle a foe as to hide behind such a virtuous action as organization. But it can and does and it's up to us to recognize that and that it is keeping us from creating and producing something new, which, can be a very scary endeavour.

So don't let your fear block you. Whatever that dream, or idea, or project you have ready to go but feel like your just not ready, I think you just might be. Start small and build up and before you know it you're on the horse flying over the wide open prairie! Myself, having numerous ideas ready to go and thumbnails sketches to work from I am ready for the next white canvas. No fear, just excitement and actually, a bit of frustration just ready to bolt from the gates and transform into sheer creative joy! And, as you can tell by the shot, the cat curled up and looking out the window with the sun on her, is a lot happier too!

Beautiful, Glowing "Oak Glory" Nature Semi-Abstract Original Acrylic Triptych

Finally completed, the "Oak Glory" triptych! Three 12" x 12" original acrylic paintings.

There's a reason why I only do a series of paintings, a triptych like this, once a year. That's because it's a heck of a lot of work. It's one thing to do a single painting. You just have to concern yourself with balancing the painting unto itself. When you do a series like this, the final painting is usually different than the beginning one and in order for the series to hang together properly you have to go back into the other two paintings and make sure they are at the same level as the last painting. And, after you paint the first one, you are continually looking to it as you work on the other two. You get to create, but it has to be disciplined. So after at least 80 hours I was done! 

Shown from the gold panel to green, right to left.

However, the results are fantastic - glowing, illuminating. I used translucent, transparent, opaque and iridescent acrylics so the colours shift and move as you walk around them. This creates the look of slow-burning gems that literally pop off the wall.

Shown green to gold, left (closest) to right.
The middle panel shows the transition from the vigorous growth of
green energy to the brilliance of fall.

These paintings symbolize the transition of energy that drives all of nature's growth but that energy is not lost when the leaves turn gold and fall, even though to our eye, they appear dead. It continues but in another form and I try to visually show that energy in light, shimmer and contrast. 

These paintings are beautiful and unique. I couldn't reproduce them again, as they are, if I tried. The textures, iridescence, patterns, colour and depth of luminosity are unreproducible. The edges are treated just like the face of the painting, the leaf printing, colours and textures continue. Even though this series is wired and ready to hang as is, I have dark brown wood floater frames on order for them and they are going to look fantastic in them! 

This series is truly beautiful, and you know what, I am not going to apologize for creating beautiful art. The beauty, luminosity, energy that animates all I am driven to honour and will continue to do just that in my work. It is art. It is fine art. It is serious art. And, it is hard work, and, I feel privileged to be able to do it.

Any nature lover, healing and/or wellness centre, yoga studio, home or office that wants to bring indoors the energy of nature, well, this is the series for you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pleasure, Pain and Persistence - The Three P's of Successful Creativity

12" x 12" last acrylic painting panel of the triptych "Oak Glory". It was through the
process of "the three P's of Successful Creativity" that I was able to complete
 this last panel. It was not easy nor pretty (I was oh so cranky at times) but the finished
 product speaks for itself. I gratefully pass on my experience
to those who would benefit from it. 

Pleasure is what gets you started. You get an idea that excites you, your pulse quickens, pupils dilate and you say YES! You want to do it, have to do it, and the excitement and energy runs high. Then it happens, you hit a snag and it starts - the Pain.

You feel it when your idea isn't working the way you thought and you're not sure how to continue on. It's like the ugly duckling stage and your wondering if it will ever turn into that unique, beautiful, never-seen-before swan you were hoping for. At this stage the work feels like it's taking forever, or taking too long to figure out or both and that initial excitement is long gone and replaced by anxiety and a growing dread. Not to worry however as this is the exact time to apply the big gun tool of Persistence. 

Once Persistence enters the picture she's the diligently determined dog digging in the hard ground of the back yard because she just KNOWS there's a big, juicy bone down there some where, and she's right. In the pain stage you felt like the universe was mocking your creative instinct, but when Peristence enters the room the universe falls back and marvels at the sheer power of it's tenacity, YOUR tenacity. One way or another you WILL finish this. And you do. It may not feel good, (usually doesn't), and your hydro bill goes up as you burn the midnight oil but when you step back and see the final results, and they are good, very good, you have no regrets, just gratitude. You are grateful to yourself for having the courage to see this to the end, with the fear that it could have been a gargantuan failure. And then again, there is no such thing. It's all part of the process to ascending the summit of successful creativity. 

And that is what I learned over the last 4 months crystallized in the successful completion of this last panel and hence, the series itself. I will post all three panels in a short whlle. They look beautiful, and I am oh so grateful to myself that I didn't give up. Don't give up, ever. Keep the summit in sight and push on through the pain (be it physical, psychological, emotional and so on). It's oh so worth it!