Summer is beginning her slow, sweet unwinding into fall and a new school year already. I have resolved to go for a walk every morning as early as possible so that I can observe this process carefully. I have found that when I direct my focus and attention to a natural process, it stirs up all sorts of thoughts and ponderings that do not occur to me when I am sitting in my studio lamenting the fact that I've run out of inspirations for the moment!
On my walk this morning I found only an occasional rose still in the glory of her bloom. The roses have slipped away in favor of the late bloomers. Observing this, I thought to myself: "Why can't we have art shows where different age groups show their work next to each other? No names, just ages. There is a natural evolution in art making. We are interested in different things at different ages and have different skill sets at different ages but all can join in the joy of creative expression. The beauties which Nature offers up do not arrive all at once.
Juried art shows puzzle me. How can we say that one person's art-making is "better" or "worse" than another's? Can we compare a rose to an aster? Why does art-making have to be competitive? How can we create a more inclusive model so that people who want to make art do not feel so intimidated? In the sixth grade I decided I would never be an artist because I "couldn't draw." What I meant was that I couldn't draw a horse who would look like a photograph. When I look around and take in the natural beauties of the earth, I don't find myself comparing anything to anything else. I like to view things in their particularity. If we think of creation as one great cosmic energy blooming itself in millions of different ways, can we not take that model for ourselves in making art? My horse is never going to look like yours and isn't that amazing? No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to draw your horse. However, I will always, everyday of my life, be able to draw my horse.
I believe that the same source in all of us can be accessed in art-making. It is a fountain of unceasing creativity and all we have to do is get out of the way. Many common habits inhibit this process: saying to ourselves "I can't .....(fill in the blank), comparing ourselves to others, placing ourselves in competitive situations with our art, assuming that if I can't sell it or make money with it, then it's not good enough or "I can't justify the expense of the art materials", and believing that only artists who do photo-realism are artists. Just to name a few. About eight years ago, I fired my inner critic. I made a big sign and put it over my work table: "Inner Critic has been fired!!" I realized that my task was not to produce art that I could say (or anyone else could say) was as "good" as someone else's. The only requirement was that it be mine. My Art. Like sunflowers blooming in the forest.
That was when I began to play. Just mess around. When I forgot all the other "stuff" and began to play with no thought of where it was going, amazing things began to happen, like a dance with an invisible lover. We danced several hours a day for months with no goal at all.
And that lover has laid many a white rose at my feet.