Monday, August 1, 2011

Clearing your Cabeza

Hemingway said "There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at your typewriter and bleed".

Here in Mexico I seem to find more time to think about my creative process and work to re-connect with it. I meet many people in my travels who think that an artist can create anytime, anywhere. In my case that couldn't be further from the truth.

Creating the mind space to draw or paint takes discipline. Once you make that commitment to love what you do madly you find a certain freedom. In order to create however you need to be free of whatever is bothering you. We are bombarded by things we feel the need to take care of before we can get down to the really satisfying work of creating. It could be financial issues, relationships, health concerns, or distractions like email. In my opinion one of the most helpful books on this subject is Steven Pressfield's: The War of Art. In this book he talks about RESISTANCE [the phantom that take many forms], the ego, all the internal and external things that impact our work. All the little excuses we make for not doing what we want to do or putting our creative work off till later.

Hemingway was right. I believe defeating those distractions involves rolling up your sleeves and making sure your fingers are covered with paint on a regular basis. It's about making a mark on the paper each day even if you think that mark isn't the best one you've ever made. I've talked about this with musicians, writers and artists and it seems that we all share a common experience.

Now everyone is different. I have found that it helps me to transition to this clear space in my head each day so I can paint. It's something to realize that you are the one responsible for making yourself too busy. It helps to seek out that silence and space and to make it a spiritual practice. I work best early, early in the morning before my family opens their eyes and I choose to run. I like to get out of the city into the country. I know these photos make it look idyllic but I sometimes have to deal with an occasional stray dog at my heels. For me, it is worth the risk as breathing oxygen and tuning into the healing power of nature calms the clutter. This morning I decided to take along a camera to document my efforts to quiet the mind.

When I return, I always draw first as it helps me to think visually, solve problems and find a language to communicate with myself and others. Then it's time to get down to the conceptualizing, sanding, transferring and painting part. I've talked with other creatives who write morning pages popularized in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way [stream of consciousness writing] to clear the clutter. Deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk or listening to music are some of the techniques I've heard about from friends. I'd like to hear from others about your methods to quiet the mind.

Perhaps one of my all time favorite artists, Charley Harper also found great inspiration from nature. When once asked to describe his art style, he said,

“When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create
an ordered universe.”

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