Saturday, January 25, 2014

turning the page: the adventure continues

Got the green light .  Got the green light to continue.

The show is up, the dust is settling, my breath is slowing and relaxing a little.  I’m reminded of that poem by Ryõkan:

The rain has stopped, the clouds have drifted away,
and the weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure, then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world, abandon yourself,
Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the Way.

Often, when one chapter’s closed and I don’t know What’s Next, I love to look around and notice what jumps, what naturally, effortlessly, sparks curiosity.  Especially after dealing with the logistics of framing and promoting and recording — maybe a week’s gone by without much creative work, maybe two — it gets hard again, to enter the studio, the mystery of it.  I feel a little out of practice. 

So for well over a decade I’ve kept an Adventure Book.  It’s a place to chronicle my wackiest creative ideas, annoying tasks, routine actions, moneymaking schemes.  A notion strikes — no matter how mundane, no matter how majestic — and in it goes.

I took this suggestion from Carol Lloyd in her book Creating a Life Worth Living, and I carry it most always.  There’s a beauty in writing all these ideas down:  I’m not committing to them.  I’ve more than enough ideas in the books to last me two years.  As she puts it, the Adventure Book “engenders proactive dreaming rather than passive peeving.”  It’s a record of my creative spurts and slumps, and serves as a catalyst … I can browse past ideas and discover which ideas still hold meaning years later, which I fulfilled easily, which fizzled maybe.  Artists to explore, music to revisit, pie-in-the-sky dreams, wines, gift ideas, questions.  I can see how I directed my energies, and have this enormous well of ideas I can draw on for inspiration, amusement, and action. 

So as I return to work, I browse their pages with wonder.  Noticing what continues to beckon. 
get a pair of scissors that cut metal (a la Sandy Calder)
would a quince tree grow here?  if so, plant one in backyard
do a little painting and give it to JT
I could listen to Bach minuets ALL DAY LONG
start a band with Mark
do a portrait of Martin Hayes
propose an exhibit at the downtown PL—small images inspired by the building—
expand my definition of myself.

This is also a moment for gratitude, to the Frenchman, to Linda, to the TurkeyLand Cove Foundation, to le petit garçon, to Andra and other partners in crime, to friends and family who’ve been guides and angels along the way.  Gosh what luck, what good fortune, what gifts.  

And so back to work, with wonder. 

Faith Ringgold:  American People Series #2: Woman Looking in a Mirror, 1966.  Oil on canvas.  Courtesy ACA Galleries

Thursday, January 9, 2014

light at the end

 .  .  .   .   .    .    .     .     .      .      .       .         .  

Courage and confidence took a nosedive last week when I picked up my work from the frame shop.  Wasn’t there supposed to be a huge pile of impressive, weighty paintings and drawings?  Surely you must have left some in the back.  These seem — well, this stack is rather small and tidy-looking.  How the hell will these fill a whole half a gallery?  Who the hell do I think I am? 

I returned home, deflated, a shell of my formerly cheerful self of that morning — consumed by a familiar hollowed-out feeling I should have recognized right away as evidence that The Voice Was Here.  What the hell was I thinking?  This is crap!  Crap doesn’t need titles and prices.  And proMOTE it as well?  PLEASE DON’T COME PLEASE DON’T COME.  Stay home.  Don’t bother.  Nothing to see here.  Jeezus.  What was I thinking?!?  This is insane. 

Tears tugged and tightened at my throat.

And yet  . . . .  somewhere, some little flame flickered and I didn’t disconnect completely.  Part of me knew that this was to be expected.  The finish line is in sight.  The work’s nearly finished.  Resistance and The Voice were joining cruel forces in one last push to keep my goal and me apart.  Damn those bastards!

I needed reinforcement.  So I wrote a quick note to one person I know who gets it, who faces similar foes, who’s seen it from the start.   Andra is wise and kind, and has such a beautiful and sincere way with words.  

Dear Una, kindly escort the Voice to the door. 
You have this.
The resistance is just letting you know you are really showing up ~ & that investment of hope & muscle & imagination is absolutely magnetic. 
And in accordance with my new mantra, “Have the courage to enjoy it.”

Wow.  Wowee.  What brilliance — In all my obsessing I’d not even considered the enjoyment part.  The weight lifted a little.  I kept moving, remembered that critical success wasn’t a chief goal for this project anyway.  This is an inside job.  We self-validate round here.  I framed one piece at a time, looked at the group, and was reassured.

And then, miraculously, more angels arrived.  

The Frenchman reminded me what my original vision was.  Sweet Shannon and Nicki and Eric turned up and oohed and aahed.  Patty — hooray for Patty! — swept in to give it one final look and to help and provide just the right dose of encouragement and conversation.  I was going to make it.  I could maybe probably stop apologizing for it.

And then this morning, in the early blue light of a snowy Wedneday, just as my sacred morning studio hours were cropped chest-clenchingly short by le petit garçon’s cries, I looked up at a quiet little collage and wondered, Is that a green-blue or a blue-blue? 

 .  .   .   .    .    .     .     .      .      .       .         .

And then I knew my own mantra, at least for now.  To bring me back to the wondrous present; to corral, just a little, the leap-frogging mind; to soothe the panic.  Not the impossible “Who the hell do I think I am?”, nor the discouraging “Where the hell should I be that I clearly am not?”.  Instead, a simple, curious, “Is that a green-blue or a blue-blue?”

It’s enough for now.