My paintings often reflect the internal debate I’m experiencing looking for the harmony between structure and freedom.
I had the opportunity to travel for a week a few summers ago on the Northern route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, often called The Way. We averaged 24km a day, it was steep, muddy, it rained, our backpacks were way too heavy, our knees and ankles were swollen and there were times when all I could do was count my next steps.
The journey didn’t really make much sense. We could have hopped on a bus, train or plane to get to our destination. It took tremendous discipline at times to get on the trail at 7:00am, especially when it was raining and we were sore from the day before.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely. I hope to walk the entire journey – approximately 40 days.
It was beautiful.
The structure, the discipline allowed us to feel free. It allowed us to escape from our everyday lives, we forget the day and the date, we were free to really and truly slow down, unplug and feel the sweet simplicity of taking it one step at a time.
We quickly formed friendships with other peregrinos (pilgrims) from all over the world; young and old, speaking different languages and living lives so different from our own.
It was meaningful and real.
How did this experience influence my art?
I’m seeking some quiet space, some structure on the canvas – allowing me to tap into and express with spontaneity and freedom – letting the journey, the process create the meaning.
“Without discipline, there’s no life at all.”
Well that’s a bit of a killjoy isn’t it? Or is it?
We had a beautiful long extended summer here on the West Coast.
However, by the 2nd week of September I was struggling.
Routine was calling me to return to order and productivity. Fall is a roll up my sleeves time of the year for me, especially knowing that holiday festivities are actually not that far ahead.
I’m preparing for The Sunshine Coast Art Crawl and my paintings reflect the internal dialogue I’m having about structure and freedom. How much structure is enough, when does it feel constricting and when does it actually support me and all that I love to do?
I’ve been paying attention to how much routine I need, I’ve been playing with what I think my boundaries are; exploring tools like time blocking, realistic to do lists, daily rituals like my meditation practice & a cup of tea and a silly reminder to floss my teeth (I know).
I’m making peace with my inner time-keeper and realizing that because of her, I get my stuff done, and truly enjoy the sweetness of free time. I make sure she isn’t so out of control as to not let me revel in the beauty of spontaneity and I demand that she books me some space for nothingness. It is an ebb and flow – at times she can be a real bitch but in a good friend kind of way.
When it comes to my art, I’m seeking some quiet space, some structure on the canvas to let my message unfurl, shine and be as expressive as I possibly can muster.
The alternative is chaos.
Your thoughts? Your tools? Please share.
I often think I have to have it all figured out first.
However, when I allow myself to just start, what I am creating begins to show itself and I gain clarity in the process.
Jumping in forces me to break habits which is kind of exciting.
Questions will come up like –
Why do I do what I do? What propels me? Where am I blocked? What or who am I influenced by?
“Write (paint) what you know,” in this case gets challenged by write (paint or fill in the blank) what you want to know.
I’ve stopped worrying. Yippee!
Do I get frustrated and blocked? Oh ya…
I’ve learned to expect set backs and sometimes I even have to start all over again.
I now recognize this as a natural process and absolutely necessary to making something that I’m proud of.
I welcome the discoveries, the accidents, and the “wrong turns” because they are never a waste of time just an opportunity to stir up something new and juicy.
When we are willing to take risks and just start, we all benefit. (I’m sure I read that somewhere as a well articulated quote – I’m game, how about you?)
p.s. If you are scared to start – get your hands on this great little book –“Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon, it will make you smile while giving you a kick in the ass or come paint with me!