My late mother-in-law had a wonderful expression. She’d arrive at our door after an hour drive and say to her excited grandsons, “Let me come to myself!” I feel like this after a busy holiday season when I’ve largely abandoned my studio. Paintings in progress sit idle and blank panels wait for first marks. As I return to my art, I must “come to myself.”
Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to to help me find the creative impulse I need to move forward. I look through sketchbooks and files to see what captures my attention. This January, two files are particularly helpful: “COOL QUOTES” and “POSSIBLE TITLES.” As an artist who is also a poet, I am inspired by the words of others. I gather lines from poems or insightful phrases from films, books, articles and blogs. When I look through these files now, I discover clear themes I want to explore next in my art.
“More Clarity” (20″ x 22″ Acrylics and Collage on Canvas)
Theme #1: QUIET. I crave more calm and quiet to offset the noise in our current political climate. I want to make art with large areas of open space. These titles fit my search for simplicity and meaning in today’s complex environment: Into Silence, Just Breathe, Silent Language, Finding the Moment, Holding the Now, Internal Voice.
“Let there be an opening into the quiet
that lies beneath the chaos,
where you find the peace
you did not think possible,
and see what shimmers within the storm.”
(“Blessing in the Chaos” by Jan Richardson)
Theme #2: UNCERTAINTY. I often feel anxious from the constant upheaval and cacophony in our present culture, and found possible titles which speak to this theme: Impermanence, Inflection Points, Event Horizon, Collapsible Space, Disconnect, Cone of Uncertainty, Scaring Myself, Details Are Sketchy.
Theme #3: CULTURAL/POLITICAL COMMENTARY. This is a continuing impulse in my art. Undoubtedly, it reflects a master’s degree and prior work experience in public policy. I am vitally interested in current events and how they shape our culture. A painting I sold in December is titled, “Circling the Truth.” My most recent gallery exhibit included a painting called, “Political Circus” and I just named a new work “Climate Change.” I am pulled to explore these possible titles from my file: Radical Transparency, Memes, Global Currents, Knowledge Transfer, Are We There Yet.
I am re-focused and eager to begin new paintings. As I begin 2020, I am left with this sage advice from an Irish poet:
“May you have the wisdom
to enter generously
into your own unease.
To discover the new direction
your longing wants to take.”
(From “For Longing” by John Donohue)
Building Bridges (24″ x 24″ Oil, cold wax, pastels on wood)