Tag: sculpting

poem: courageous or insane

When i read this poem
months and years from now,
i will be able to tell you
if i am insane,
or if i am courageous
with a smattering of stubbornness
poured on like gravy.

i am doing
what i know how to do –
finally making pottery again,
drawing and painting,
falling into orgies of words
that form in black and white –
the base pair of my creativity.

Reason tells me i have no hope.

Physically, i struggle every day
to do the most basic things
like breathe and move through space.
Socially, i am awkward and afraid,
hamstrung by my anxious incompetence.
Financially, i may be too far gone
for anyone to help,
other than a steady stream of customers.
Spiritually, i am shifting
away from that image of God
so many people have said
cannot love me,
into a broader vision of Spirit,
which unsettles everything.

i am incapable
of surviving
in a world constructed
solely of logic and reason,
dependent upon the tangible alone.
i envy those who can.

i tried,
and barely made it through
the devolution that followed.

So now
when stress eats me alive –
held at bay
only by 10,000 poems
and countless hours of meditation –
i keep fulfilling
my purpose and my dreams
with every able moment.

i throw
my worries
onto the pyre
of art.

After the frenzy of terror passes,
i always return
to a quiet space
where i am certain
i am on the right path.

In a life
during which
i have been sure
of so few things,
this is an irresistible encouragement.
A few seconds spent rejoicing
in that sublime confidence
and i am awakened.
i make more.
Words, clay, and pigment
bend to my need.

i am either embracing madness
or taking an inconvenient path
into tomorrow –
i have no idea
which this is.

But, i am aware
that right now,
in this precise moment,
i am doing all that i can do
and praying i survive
my folly and drive.

6 december 2015

addiction to art’s flow

IMG_1554Over the years, i have known too many people who struggled with addictions to things like cigarettes or shopping or sex or alcohol or drugs, or some combination of the above.  Watching their struggles, i felt this immense gratitude (along with waves of compassion) that i had not fallen down the same path.

Only, recently, i have realized that i did not escape the gene or the effects of environment that can foster addiction.  In a very real sense, i developed an one of my own – to getting lost in the flow of art.  When i make art, everything else disappears; my entire being seems to dissolve in the way the clay, paint, ink or story moves.  i crave this.  i demand it.  i seek it out, even if i am scribbling on a napkin.  Indeed, i will continue chasing after art even when every speck of evidence tells the sane rational people around me that this is a foolish, self-destructive path.

For the past several weeks, I have been trying very hard to redirect a portion of my effort and energy into finding more freelancing jobs, exploring other options for employment that can coexist beside my current business and obligations. Indeed, i am even preparing myself for the very real possibility that art must be put on hold for awhile, so that i can keep a roof over my head and food in my animals’ bellies. In addition IMG_1545to seeking non-art solutions, i took an amazing small business class to see how to better move through the troubling arena of selling art.  i am doing all i can to put myself in a better position.

i acknowledge that all these chores are necessary things, and good places to put my energy.  After all, financially at the very least, something has to shift quickly.   However, there is a drawback. i do this knowing that the energy to which my body has access is limited. Therefore, devoting a large portion of my effort into these areas has meant that other responsibilities and joys suffered. My dog is shamefully lacking time at the beach to romp and roam.  Except for meditation, my self-care has flown out the window.  The stress is wearing on me; i am letting everyone down while i scramble for better paying jobs and new galleries to sell my art.

As i fill out applications and take tests on my competency in different subjects (discovering that i am happily quiet competent at many tasks), i have been doing the same thing i did during graduate school and undergraduate and nearly every traditional job i have ever held: i am leaking poems and art like blood dripping from my hands.

The more i try to focus on other things, the more the art surfaces. If i swear off art even for a short period, my entire being destabilizes IMG_1547and creativity bleeds into inappropriate places and spaces.  Dialogue for plays murmurs from my lips while i am in the shower. Poetry finds itself scribbled in the margins of notes i take, just like in college.  Drawings swim around in my mind until i have to draw them – not just once, but twice or three times – in order to expunge the image.  Stories that were put aside earlier due to lack of time haunt both my waking and dreaming mind; characters shake me and demand their due.

For six days, an intense, nauseating migraine has been wreaking havoc with my brain, eyes, thoughts and coordination.  My  memory is off; my attention span, worse.  Writing, like i am doing right now, actually hurts as much from the effort of putting one letter after another as from trying to focus through enough visual distortion to make the IMG_1556whole world brighter than a sparkly Twilight vampire.  The one thing that has soothed is art: the flow of ink, experimenting with watercolor, the comfort of line and form.

Even when i am at my worst, i bleed art. If i try to pretend i am a normal person, like the adult that i imagine everyone else to be, then the bleeding becomes a hemorrhage. The compulsion to make it grows irresistible.  It wails within me, disconsolate and brutal, until i give in.  So, i feed the addiction, no longer caring if i am forgetting other things, neglecting important obligations or crumbling into dissolution.  Inside the flow of creating, nothing matters but what pours through me.

And, for that, i thank the entirety of this super-sparkly Creation, every moment, including those dripping with pain.  There are worse fates than being a hopeless artist.  This strange little addiction feeds my soul; it helps to pull me back from despair; it fuels the rest of the struggle to move through this life.

stealing time

A thief again,
i have been stealing
from my obligations
to other people
and giving time
to myself.

i hide away,contentment_alt
turn everything off
but the sweet stilling music.

Guilty like Robin Hood,
i steal from those tasks
that gobble up days in a mouthful
and give a few intimate hours
to mold a figure in clay,
to let these words
flow across the page.

Reality struck me like a blow
last Tuesday –
the ten thousand chores
on a dozen to-do lists before me
will never go away.
One task accomplished,
three rise in its place.
Requests and demands
will always come
like moths to a flame,
the light of energy and ability
being irresistible.

i have to learn to say no.

Even better,
i must learn to state
“not now”
with singular clarity and purpose.

In my heart, i begin to believe
that i am fully valuable,
deserving of peace and art.
Even without that justification,
the results are profound:
after a few quiet hours,
i feel restored.

Even the mountains of toil
for the benefit of others
do not feel as heavy
with ink staining my hands.

Take Life by the hand…

take life by the hand - lead it in a dance of Love - open-hearted joy
take life by the hand – lead it in a dance of Love – open-hearted joy

So much has happened this past year, that i can barely process it all.  A lot of things i took for granted were stripped away.  Those last shreds of stability (or the delusion of same) disappeared.  Going through my poetry and blogs from the last twelve months, what i see is a clarifying fire – a lot of what i thought was important and what i assumed would be my path’s easy choices became either irrelevant or unreachable.  i have been humbled by my own failures and limitations.  i had to adapt – i am still in the process of adapting, in fact – and this has been neither smooth nor free of whining.  (And here is my first gratitude: for friends that held my hand and let me break down in anger, frustration and fear.  You rock!)

join us in this dance - wild joy of word and line - melody of dreams
join us in this dance – wild joy of word and line – melody of dreams

What shocks me the most, though, is how much my art changed while i was going through this intense time.  If i am honest, this transformation began a long time ago. Even during my divorce there were pieces of strength and determination amid some of the most sorrowful paintings and grief-drenched poems i have ever created.  For years, i languished right on the edge of the pit, never very far from falling in even when i danced with happiness.  And when i fell, oh, how i fell. i could stay down there for ridiculous amounts of time, thrashing about powerlessly.

Very slowly, over months and years, meditation and the retraining of my brain started to work.  In a way, i don’t think this will ever be fully finished, although i hope i am wrong. So far, though, each time i get over one hurdle or come to terms with one weakness, i find another.  Somehow, i developed a seemingly endless series of habits and assumptions that need to be questioned, shaken up or eradicated.  Still, i began to be more content for longer and longer periods – even when the same difficulties kept flooding my life.  Loneliness did not disappear, the financial instability did not resolve itself, the troubles with anxiety did not simply dissolve, vanquished by sudden bravery.  However, this year, i found a way to enjoy the moment even when the big picture crumbled to pieces.  When i read my words or look at my drawings – particularly these pen and inks – i do not see the sorrow or suffering.  i see the hope, the bliss, the determination that might be madness.

i do not exist - except in these words and lines - where i come to life
i do not exist – except in these words and lines – where i come to life

Maybe i overdosed on stress this past summer.  Perhaps i finally surrendered my last illusions of control. Maybe after 1,000 hours of meditation even the dimmest bulb can get some light. Either way, i have found myself more peaceful and more shockingly joyous in the middle of crises than i used to be when things were going well.  First, my art became joy, even when i felt nothing like that at the time.  Then i started checking in with myself and discovered the joy and peace were really just there, hiding underneath the wild fear and habits of doom.

For this, i am more grateful than i can say.  i know i am not  anywhere near done.  i keep practicing kindness, practicing gratitude.  When i forget, or get too busy, i feel myself sliding back into places i want to go.  This practice has become what poetry and prose have always been – a foundation on which my sanity rests.

On this New Year’s Eve, i could give you a hundred things i wish would change, ten stormandsunthousand that i want to do, i could wax on and on about how i don’t know what to do about my business or where the future will lead me.  My imagination can conjure the most desperate, terrible futures as well as ways everything could change, if i want to invest in fantasies.  i could do all those things – but i don’t want to.

What i want to do is make more joy through pen and ink, through clay, through oils and acrylics.  i want to throw myself into the sanctuary of words not because i have to hide myself there lest i crumble into despair, but because it is wonderful, exciting, hard work.  i want to find that speck of unexpected kindness in the middle of uncertainty.  i want to laugh with friends and hug my dog and pester my cats with love.  i want to enjoy this improbable happiness when so much has gone wrong.  i want to keep growing as i have this year.

And for those desires, i also give thanks.

Have a lovely New Year – and if troubles find you, if they find me, may we all find the sparks of loveliness inside them.

joy in art

10483983_295400057311713_1087486501397953590_nLast night, I had a list of things I needed to do.  One client needs her newest media added to her website, another needs me to finish researching, a third really needs me to do a couple of flyers and to update her website.  For myself, I need to finish the most depressing cash flow analysis in the history of time, every number of which generates another wave of hopelessness, make a list of what emergency things I need for my art to stay in business, and I have the book I just finished that needs editing.  Not to mention, this blogging and the other writing I’m working on have been impatiently waiting for their due time.

And, I should mention, I am exhausted beyond all measure.  The pain and disability that overtook me this summer has not loosened its grip one iota.  Each time I stand it feels like someone poured lava down my legs.  Some days I feel like I still have my mind, others I languidly wonder if my brains have been replaced by goo.  Too often, I have to use my left hand to pull the pen out of my right, because my muscles clamp down too severely.  Every step, no matter what direction I am going, comes at a great cost.  If I were a car, I would be running on vapors with a loose axle. I would never pass inspection.

This is the lowest I have been since my divorce and the second time in my adult life that everything  that I thought was worthwhile and useful about me has been stripped away.  The thing that got me through the first personal deconstruction was my art. I lost all my stability, I had all the love I had ever known repossessed like a car, I was told unequivocally that nothing I had ever done meant anything.  So much flowed from that loss: story, poetry, painting.  Each of the mediums in which I create took a leap forward, I became a better artist because art was the only thing tethering me to this world.

Perhaps that is why this summer has been so torturous, realizing that as much as it soothes me, as much as it gives me my sanity, what a fundamental part of my being creativity comprises – I lack the basic skills to make my art – or my writing – help feed me.  Or, and this would be so much worse, I am doing everything I should be doing but I lack whatever magic is need to make it work. It’s not like I am asking for the world, either – just enough to pay my bills, feed me and keep making art.  For four years, things were going fairly well, despite major setbacks, I still sold enough art to keep hunger at bay.  This year, though, I cannot give my work away.  Even my time doesn’t seem valuable to my own students, for they no longer want to pay for it.  If I am just ignorant and stupid, then those problems could be fixed.  However, if this is the economy or my art being out of fashion, then there is nothing I can do.  This is like a graduate course in acceptance and surrender.

Since I threw myself into this venture five years ago, I have been visualizing, demanding, pleading, begging the universe and still, here I am drowning in work I find difficult and disharmonious with my basic formatting and the work that gives my life meaning is not saving me.

I have no idea what I should do.  As usual, I want to turn to art, but lack the energy, focus and stamina to do much:  poems, the book on meditation, the pen and inks.  The thought of the wheel makes my heart ache.  Part of me wonders if I should try to give this up – but it is integral to me.  One thing I have learned is that whether or not I am selling my art, the need to create is interwoven into my DNA.  flyingfallingIf I have to, I will be able to give up pottery.  My hands will itch for the clay, but I will survive.  If my brain continues to rot inside my skull, maybe someday I will be forced to give up writing.  But, until then, I know words and images will creep out whenever there is a moment.  On nights like last night, I will forsake all the things I have to do so I can steal time to start drawing and writing.  The picture at the top of this blog came through me last night.  This one a few hours earlier.

Which ends the long preamble for my point.  Yesterday,  I was eating while the picture immediately above was drying, someone came to my studio.  I had thought we knew each other well enought that when she asked how business was, I could answer honestly.  Alas, she refused to hear any of my desperation or concern, she kept shaking her head and talking about how these drawings are so joyous.  At that moment, I had needed someone to hear my worries, so I felt thwarted and invisible, but after she left I looked at the drawings – particularly the one I had just finished.  The joy made me frustrated, it felt at odds with the emotions that no amount of meditation can completely stop from churning.  Later that night, hoping to give voice to how I was feeling, I drew the image that begins the blog.

So, as you can see, it came out joyous.  All of yesterday’s works (that were not garlic related) were drenched in the holy spirit and bliss.  Neither woman is plummeting to her doom, just flying or gently floating.  Gravity still has a hold, but something is keeping them up.  Just going through my instagram feed I saw an insane amount of joy in post after post after post.  During the divorce I painted things like this:

divorce_red

And now, when I’m just as low emotionally and much lower physically, I am drawing things like this:

IMG_3277and sculpting things like this:

IMG_3210and painting like this:

annunciation

Last night, after I drew her flying over that farmland and mountains, I sat there, starting at the art that had just launched out of me, prying the pen out of my claw, wondering what these images – and even the poems – are trying to tell me.

As I staggered off to bed, I realized that in a strange way these works made all the instability, rejection and internal suffering seem irrelevant.  Meditation has been helping me realize that I am separate from the drowning, even as I am gulping down salt-water.  But I had not realized what my art might be telling me.  Could they mean, with or without this studio and this level of creativity, things will be okay?

 

 

 

 

Getting back to the real work…

Yesterday, I threw.  It felt glorious. Like I was getting back to something real and tangible.  This ridiculous perceptual problem I have talked about over and over – feeling like my artwork somehow exists in a different realm of importance and value than the work that allows for the art to happen – stood out in glaring relief.  This seems to be a balancing act – create for awhile, do the chores of work for a few days, create more, back to the duties of business.  Yet again I have proved to myself that this is all part of the journey.  While I enjoy making art so much more, I cannot deny the use and benefit to the accompanying labors.  I have to stop being grumpy with them over the time and energy they take.

For the week previous, I had been largely consumed with the other necessities of running a business and the extra work I take on helping people with their websites and social media.  That last bit feels doubly ironic, because thanks to a hangout on Google+, watched on You Tube, I learned so much about social media for the artist and marketing your work online that my head was spinning.  (For me, I know I have spent an hour well when I realize how clueless I was 60 minutes earlier.)  A lot of the time, I find the incredible transformations in dissemination within all the creative realms – writing, painting, pottery – overwhelming and scary.  That I delude myself into thinking I travel this path on my own accentuates the anxiety.  Right now there is no perfectly paved road to follow toward success – whether that is defined as publication or art sales. As Neil Gaiman pointed out in one of my favorite videos of all time, the industry is in flux. (When I looked up the link for this, I predictably had to stop blogging so that I could watch his address again. This is one of my favorite speeches. Even though I am so far from its intended audience chronologically and educationally, it doesn’t matter.  He never fails to give me heart again, particularly after I have made another  “glorious mistake.”)

and the red is still not quite right...
and the red is still not quite right…

Always, watching someone who makes their living at art talk about how they managed it fills me with hope. All of us struggle with distractions and problems. For me, my greatest challenges center around the limitations of my body; others must dance with the demands of work and family. That someone has managed to make a living through their words or art, around whatever else pulled at their attention, means that it is possible. Even if many other things have to co-exist beside the creating, like book-keeping and web design and taking 200 photographs to get one good one of a piece of pottery, it can still feed you.

Honestly, I cannot express to you how wonderful it was to be muddy. Even after all these years, watching something lovely take form between my hands makes me giddy.  I have two boards, coated with flawless, virginal gesso, waiting to be defiled with paint.  A new keyboard – without any of the letters worn away – sits before me, eager to begin its journey through short stories, novels and poems.

Because of all the work I did this week, I can actually spend today and tomorrow making art.

Best of all: today feels like spring.  The ground has been rendered into mud from the melting snow and ice.  Birds sing all around the studio.  I’m maybe three good melting days away from being able to put up my “open for business” signs for the studio.  Ideas for new creations in every medium in which I work sing about within me; the reedy melodies of winter have suddenly become strong and ecstatic.  The long, hard, frozen months have already taken on the garb of illusion – the unreality of memory.  I am so excited to get back to my ‘real’ work, what ever that is.

sculpting fire

The past few days have not been overwhelmed with joy.  I’m struggling (still!) with my energy, stamina and pain, my coordination has been terribly off and I have felt wildly alone. The latter sensation kept getting stoked by a lot of events that were canceled (the weather really hates my social life) and the business stresses that make the ‘sole’ in sole proprietor cut into me like the edge of a broken pot.  For just an extra bit of rejection, someone I really wanted to get to know better told me in two quick emails that I wasn’t worth the effort – which is his choice, and something that didn’t come completely unexpected since the lags between his emails kept getting longer and longer.  Although as I read his words, I couldn’t help thinking that he had been thwarted by circumstance.  The email coming today blunted the impact of his gratuitous rejection, like someone pushing me away me while I was too far down to fully notice.

A few melancholy poems wandered from my pen along with an angry letter to God. I kept trying to edit pictures on my turgid laptop before I gave up in despair. I painted gesso on a few boards.  In a fit of determination, I started hand-building because my back balked at the wheel.  Only, again, I couldn’t make anything.  An entire slab of clay – half a bag worth – wound up on the floor, impaled on shards of dead pottery.  A small box managed to come to life out of the remains.  Then, with great difficulty, my hands birthed a tall, towering vase.  I even instagramed a picture of it, I was so proud.

before the fall
before the fall

I didn’t want to stay here in the studio until 2 or 3 in the morning, though, so I went to use the heat gun to stiffen the vase so I could safely remove the armature.  While the vase was in a delicate spot, I raced over to get the heat gun.  It looked like it was on the shelf, ready to use, but I found out someone had left it plugged in underneath the wheels (there are times I whine about opening up my studio to other artists.  They have all been told leaving that plugged in is a fire hazard, a trip hazard and a damned inconvenience for the next person who needs the tool.  Then, I start wondering if I was the one who used the heat gun last…)  While I struggled to free the plug – ouch! the  bending! – I heard the vase fall, splat, onto the ground.  The one truly lovely thing I had made today, decimated by a freaking plug.

I stood there buzzing with anger because I had been defeated by so much lately.  I can’t fix my financial stressors.  I can’t make someone like me.  I can’t rush along the changes coming to my life just like I can’t guarantee that all my efforts aren’t in vain.  But, damn it, i don’t have to lose another half a bag of clay just because it catastrophically fell over and crumpled into itself.  Very carefully, very slowly, with stubbornness burning in my ears, I picked the clay up and straightened it out.  I grabbed dowels to stick down the bifurcated piece, determined to make something tall.

In the end, and this is probably where I should have started this blog, I sculpted defiance.  Tears streaming down my face, my body complaining vigorously about standing that long, I kept working.  She became the fire of stubbornness, the refusal to be destroyed even though she could not regain her original configuration.  She looks incredibly rough right now – but she has arms and a head.  In a little feat of irony, I’ll be here in the studio until 2 or 3 in the morning, making sure the dowels come out.  I don’t dare leave.  If I go to the house, the siren call of a steaming hot shower, the heating pad and bed will be too strong.  Instead I might write some more melancholy, self-pitying poetry. Perhaps I’ll draw on the iPad.  Maybe I will let myself work on my book.  It would be nice to lose myself in someone else’s trials and tribulations.

I wish I had more words of strength and resilience to end this babbling, but right now I’m just hanging on by a thread.  All I have to get me through is obstinacy.

makes me want to smile

This morning, my driveway tried to kill me. The ice is melting, but remains ridiculously slick and the film of water on top of it made my dog skid off his feet.  As a result, I closed my studio and showroom for the day while the melting continues.

This is a blessing.

Yesterday I worked myself a bit too hard; my body will enjoy having lighter duties today. This also gives me a chance to get the house in order (do laundry, organize chaos, stare at the dirty dishes intently enough to develop telekinesis), put items up for sale on ebay and Houzz, and blog.

As soon as the washer started chugging away, I realized I wanted to blog first and foremost.  Of course, this has nothing to do with avoiding the mess that has taken over the living-room.  Instead, it has everything to do with my gratitude for a singular moment while teaching.

Last night, I experienced one of those small exchanges that will live on in my heart forever – filed under “memories for when you need to cheer up.”

A student stayed until late. She is a delightful teenager, able to work wonders with the clay when she harnesses her mind (something which I understand from my own experience; mind harnessing is not always an effortless process.) We were sculpting and talking when she mentioned that some people she cares about deeply keep trying to get her to smile. As much as she wants to please them, she can’t do it.  She doesn’t like to smile, even when she’s happy.  She couldn’t give me a clear reason why she doesn’t want to grin, although she did give it some serious thought after I asked.  “Well, don’t worry about it here,” I told her as I added a fin to my mermaid’s tale, “I don’t mind, you can have whatever expression you want.  Pout, be relaxed, scowl, it won’t bother me.  Just let me know when you need help or something needs to change.”

mermaidShe looked up at me with large, serious eyes and a delightfully earnest expression, “Now, that makes me want to smile.”

At that, I smiled enough for both of us. It is enough for her to tell me that she enjoys her time in the studio and the lessons I have given – I don’t need effervescent emoting. Lord knows, I effervescently emote enough for a small country and she puts up with it.

mermaid2The night continued on quite nicely.  She started on a cat-woman sculpture and I worked on the mermaid. I ended the day exhausted but content.

Even when I settled in for sleep, I kept grinning at the thought that something so little on my part had made her happy.  It is such a small thing, really, to release my expectations about how someone should react to something – and the payoff for flexibility is huge. She found such comfort in not being told what configuration her face had to take.

Too many blessings?

Some artists are really fortunate to have a strong faithful relationship with one medium.  They feel no need to flirt with others, because they are completely at peace and fulfilled with whatever it is they do.  Part of me always wanted to be like that – I had fantasies of funneling all my energy into writing or calling myself a painter knowing nothing else interfered with it – but my nature does not allow for such creative fidelity. I zip from project to inspiration, constantly pulled between blessings. A few words here, a pot there, a sculpture thrown together in between. It amazes me that I complete as much as I do given my patchwork concentration.

I wanted to compose a substantial, sage-like blog today but I was up past 2 am writing this new book.  When I awoke a few minutes before 8 am, it was because the character I had left in the ER, clinging to his life by a very fine thread, walked into an otherwise unrelated dream and demanded to know if he would survive. He shook me by the shoulders so hard, desperate for an answer, that he woke me up. Weary beyond words, I dragged myself out of bed because I realized the story would not let me get back to sleep.

In the shower, as I was deciding how desire and duty would dance throughout the day, I realized that I have equally strong impulses to throw, sculpt and write. Not to mention several dozen tiny poems that have been waiting impatiently to be etched onto slabs of clay. Sadly, I know from experience that no matter which of these blessings I choose to indulge, the others will continue shuffling around in my imagination, randomly shouting out for attention, all day long. Whatever I am doing, part of the experience will be allowing those voices to flow through me without deviating me from my task.

Of course, there will be much more to my day than raw creating. I have responsibilities I must fulfill as well: add products to Houzz and ebay, unload the kiln, glaze pottery and reload a kiln, teach two awesome students, fulfill more of the commissions that are clipped to my work shelves – like orders in an incredibly slow restaurant. Don’t let me forget the other business chores: I need to work on websites, go over promotional materials, start planning out the spring, make sure nothing massive is falling off my to-do list, check in with clients, keep up to date on my bookkeeping.  These obligations do not fill me with effervescent joy, but they are what allow me to attend to my blessings.

With all this bubbling up within me, I can still only do one thing at a time.  I have to choose between my desires and duties, focus on a specific task, and then move boldly forward. This decision cannot be fully impulsive: I have to think ahead about firings and weather and what my closest due-dates might be.  Once I know what I must do, the real problem begins.  For a brain like mine, putting all my attention onto that singular project can be almost painful.  It requires inordinate discipline, which can chafe if not applied correctly. Work becomes the reward for getting through a pile of work.

My treat, for getting a lot of studio work done over the next six hours, will be to write tonight.  Zavier and I will discover if he survives before I sleep again.

faces

faces1faces3Alright, I’ll admit it.  I was a little lonely earlier today. As blessedly welcome and gratifyingly long-lived as my current spell of peacefulness has been, I am not immune to emotional reactions or mercurial moods.  However, they rule over me much less than they used to – and when they do pester me, I have a better understanding of what to do. faces2 faces4So, when my solitude became too burdensome tonight, I took a break and started walking around the studio, hoping movement would shake my mind free of repetitive thoughts and vexing mood.

 

Walking meditations – or, if i am feeling incredibly hyper and faces5playing loud music,faces24 it really devolves into a dancing demi-meditation –  can really help to clarify the mind. faces20 Either it will spark a story and thus lubricate more creativity or the effort will bring on contentment and calm me down.  For the past year, the latter has happened much more than the former. This time was no different.faces30

 

After a few passes around the big table in the center of the studio, I realized I was surrounded faces14by faces. faces22

 

Indeed, I wandered inside the middle of a gentle, friendly mob of my own making.

 

With the exception of my dog, whose sweet gaze followed me in utter confusion while I paced, faces8these faces6were all faces that I have made in clay or paint.  At first, they made me a little more lonely – until I realized that they had served, time and again, as the antidote for whatever suffering I found in my solitude.  faces19

 

Whether they were characters in fictional stories, or simply faces that came into my mind at a random moment,faces9 without prompting or premeditation,faces31 these sculptures and paintings enriched my life.

 

Some served as an exorcism of sorts, putting the emotions bubbling over within me onto another.  Thus, they helped shoulder my burdens.  faces20Other times, they served as prayers – naked attempts to evoke something within myself.faces21faces17

 

Several times, I have made joyous, loving faces while stuck deep in the pit. They encouraged me – if the ability to portray such things lay within my abilities, then perhaps those blessings could faces7manifest within my everyday life.faces32

 

As I created them, I lost myself in the geometry of eyes and smiles and cheekbones, and in so doing, I lost whatever mood or emotion that had sparked the birth of this particular work.faces18faces34

 

In fact, more than once, the eyes staring back at me testified to the temporary vanquishing of the loneliness that had dogged me.  faces35

 

The act of creating – sculpting, or painting, or writing, faces12or composing music, or really any feat of creativity – connects the maker to the world. faces26faces37 Art is a primal act of communication.  The artist reaches out, even if it goes unseen or the words go unread, or if the person moving the brush or manipulating the clay doesn’t have a clear idea what they needed to communicate when they started. faces11faces27

 

In my case, when I am at my best as an artist or writer, it truly feels like the work comes through me rather than originating in my calculating mind. faces29 faces23The spring from which this flows runs very deep indeed.  This phenomenon brings forth another level of connection and joy, because I am anchoring myself in something far greater than what is contained within my neurons.faces28faces36

 

 

Once I realized what a gift these faces have been, I started taking pictures as I circled that table.

These creations share the downstairs of the studio… more than this blog entry easily faces25handles.  By the time I had finished the little project, I no longer felt alone.  I suffered from nothing at all.faces33faces38

 

I felt absolutely decadently rich.

 

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This life is a wonderful gift; I have no right to wallow in loneliness, even when I am alone.faces13

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