Ink, acrylic, gloss varnish on 9 x 12 canvas, 2006
I'm going to try and stick to this self assigned challenge of posting a new work every day. It must be new, and if I don't have anything, it will force me to at least do a quick drawing so I'll have something to post.
When I am painting (or drawing, making a collage, etc.) I am searching for a particular state of mind that people can refer to as "being the zone". Usually, it takes me some time to find it, and that amount of time is directly correlated to the time I have been away from creating. I'm hoping that if I hold myself to this challenge, I will have less time lapse in between creating, thus keeping me closer to "the zone".
So what is this magical state of mind anyway, and what does it feel like? To explain, I must take you through the whole journey of getting there. (The following example would be after a week or so away from painting). When I first start working there is an expectation for everything to be golden, right from the start. I move the paint around with enthusiasm and passion, but something isn't right, and I start thinking 'why isn't this working?'. I keep painting, trying all different ideas hoping something will click. The expectation turns into a demand to get it right, which doesn't help anything at all, and I'm distracted by my thoughts. At this time, I often feel frustration, doubt, fear, or anger, and clearly, my art is suffering for it. Good ideas are painted over in a flash of irritation, and sometimes I start questioning if I can do this at all, if I'm any good anyway, and other discouraging thoughts. At that point I could give up and walk away, and when I was younger, I would. But now I've had this happen to me enough times to stick it out, knowing it will get better...
Deep sigh..... it all becomes clear. "I'm too tense, I'm thinking too hard, just let it happen, relax". After a pause of deep breathing and reflection, I pick up the brush and it starts to happen... that thing. The CONNECTION. It's as if I was previously hard wired to my brain, and then changed the wire to my soul. My intuition takes over. There is an openness within me that allows instinct to take over, and all of a sudden, my spirit, my eyes, my hand, and the canvas are in tune. It's a feeling that's hard to describe.... a blissfully, deep knowing, and at the same time, a feeling that I'm not in charge. For anyone who has meditated, this is indeed a meditative state, only I am in motion, creating, activating the energy that I'm connecting to.
This feeling can last a few hours or days, depending on how much time I have to devote to nothing but painting. Those close to me know that I get kind of weird during and after a "session" - it's hard for me to speak, like I lost my power of language, and I feel very distant, though very much at peace. When I lay down to sleep, my eyes are filled with flashing paintings and bursts of color (it can be difficult to sleep when a show like that is going on!). Of course eventually, I end up back in the everyday flow of fast paced living, thinking, and being, which explains why it's such a process to get back to where I want to be mentally/intuitively when I paint.
This cycle is my life right now, and has been for many years. Something I am working towards is breaking the cycle by trying to live more peacefully/centered in every moment. I am currently 29 years old, and lately I've been thinking of my older self looking at me now - she would say "SLOW DOWN and enjoy it!". I think my work right now reflects all that frenetic energy in me, and in time, as I slow down, so will my paintings. Maybe, maybe not - we'll just have to wait and see. ;)