Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watching Paint Dry

All over the East Bay artists are working busily to prepare for Open Studios. I am one of them.
Unlike the old stereotypical image of the artist as a Bohemian living in a garret on the outskirts of society, the twenty-first century artist has to be a hardworking, dedicated individual, developing her/his art in a world parallel to work and relationships.
When we get into the studio, we have to lock the door of our mind in order to engage in the love affair that is art-making. We try to remove ourselves from all the pop culture images, slogans, and values in order to "think outside the box", a phrase that has become,itself, a cliché.
What does it mean, to think outside the box? For me, (I can speak only for myself because every person's process is their own) it means sinking into a place of no thought at all. My fingers join my eyes in seeing, and my eyes join my fingers in perceiving the visual and sensual materials with which I work.
Then there is the leap! The daring act of marking a clean surface. The audacity of putting a hole into a canvas in order to attach wire and bits of fabric. I scribble and scrape, spray water, attach objects. I enter a state of creative inebriation. . .if I'm lucky.
Then there comes the moment when the artist must let the materials do their own thing. Yes, time to watch the paint dry.
This is not an idle time. It is a time of practicing restraint. A period of meditation and study. I look around the studio and play "what if":What if I sanded it next? What if I rub in some crayon? But I do nothing but watch.
In Freeing the Creative Spirit I wrote that creativity is a process of making something happen, then letting something happen. Every now and then I realize that life is just the same.