Monday, April 27, 2009

Catching up with myself

untitled, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18", ©2009

Don't even know where to start here. It's been so long since I've really done a blog post, so I was going to write about what's been happening over the past month or so, but there was so much that it feels a bit overwhelming, so maybe it's just best to start with now. Quick overview to get caught up on the past month or so: Easter and all the preparations that went into it, including a new altarpiece and a new art exhibit; recovering from all that; my garden; probably more that I can't think of just now. I'm slowly adding photos to my flickr account for all these.

Of course, the most prominent thing on my mind has been my recent frustrations in the studio. I've managed to paint a few good pieces, but my creative flow feels all gummed up and it's like trying to swim in molasses when I work. In frustration, I found myself turning for inspiration to my bookshelf. After flipping through a few books, I finally opened The Artist's Way. This is the book that started it all for me, and I've read it several times since I first read it about 13-14 years ago, but I hadn't picked it up in years. Thought maybe since I am a working artist now that I'd learned all there was to learn from it or something.

After just skimming through it for a few minutes I had several "Ah-ha!" moments and I realized that there was still a lot to learn from this book. The words that really stuck with me were on page 153:

Over an extended period of time, being and artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us. Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work. Far from being a brain-numbed soldier, our artist is actually our inner playmate. As with all playmates, it is joy, not duty, that makes for a lasting bond.

I've gotten so caught up in making sure I have a good finished product, I think I've forgotten how to have fun! I've forgotten how much I love the process of painting, the joy of color and texture. The fun of making a mess! And what's worse is that I realized that I've also lost enthusiasm for a lot of other things in life too - let myself get mired down in boredom. And then I read this on page 18:

Boredom is just "What's the use?" in disguise. And "What's the use?" is fear, and fear means you are secretly in despair.

Wow.

So, I'm doing the Artist's Way again. I'm doing my morning pages and artist dates. I'm only on Week 1, but I can already feel the gears turning more smoothly. And I'm already much more excited when I paint. This painting was the first one to feel the effects of letting go and having fun again. I had been working at it for weeks and getting nowhere, but when I consciously decided to just enjoy making colors and textures, it came almost effortlessly.

I'm very interested to see where this turn through the Artist's Way will lead me, how will it be different now that I've been a working artist for a while now. I'll let you know! And hey, if anyone wants to join me, that would be great!

9 comments:

Binky said...

I'll be digging through the muck of my studio to find the Artist's Way. I am in the same boat you are as far as motivation.
I tried to blame it on the weather we've had but I really think it's just me lacking in motivation. It's quite frightening because I have to deliver a few paintings on the 30th and would really like new ones.

bridgette said...

That book started it all for me too! I got it at a used book store the first month I moved to Seattle. :)

i've been thinking of going back to it again just to see how it would be now, several years later. Too bad i'm so far away now.......it would have been fun to do an artist's way group with you.

andrea said...

I hear so much about The Artist's Way and have never even read the jacket. But your inspiration is inspiring. Must finally get hold of it.

Angela Wales Rockett said...

Binky: Yeah, the weather was my favorite scapegoat for a while too. But now that the sun is out on a semi-regular basis, I had to let go of that. :)

Bridgette: I've always just done The Artist's Way solo, but having a group would be great. Especially if that group included you! Maybe we can do some long distance version.

Andrea: It's a great book and I recommend it highly. Re-reading it is reminding me just how great it is. I honestly haven't found any better for really working at the roots - and I've read a lot of them.

flyinamber said...

can you tell me the author's name?I will try find this book here at library..
like your new painting..

Angela Wales Rockett said...

amber: Sure, the author is Julia Cameron. And thank you!

Peter said...

I read The Artists Way ages ago and did my morning pages for about 5 years! It was very influential in kick-starting afresh my 'art career'.

I know what you mean about getting stuck, but I'm glad you had fun with the painting! It's got a nice 'messiness' about it ... and I mean that in a GOOD way!

bridgette said...

hey angela, i just came across this blog that i thought you might find interesting. http://anartistinbrooklyn.wordpress.com/

Steele Lindsey said...

Very spiritual!