Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moratoria and Missing Links

Art Journal page, April 2014
Where to begin.....I'm in one of my occasional fallow periods, where I stop creating for all intents and purposes (mail art excepted).  What I've noticed with these recently more-frequent respites from art making is that with each one, I'm seeming to go deeper into myself to arrive at new understandings and realizations.

After my last class with Jane Davies I put myself on class-taking hiatus indefinitely.  And there certainly are classes I would take, ones that pals are participating in and loving, were it not for my decision to stop.

Earlier this week I put myself on another moratorium, to not buy ANY more art materials or supplies for a good, long while.  What could I possibly need that I don't already have at this point?

For so long I've wanted to understand more deeply what it is about me and art making that has been so confounding.  You've read numerous posts here in one way or another alluding to my "checkered" art making history, my vagabond-like path through countless media in an attempt to find one that clicked for me.  Some place I could hang my creative hat for the duration and claim as my own.  And other rambling posts about trying to find my style in this or that medium, etc.

I discovered the answer just yesterday while beginning to read Eric Maisel's Fearless Creating ~ To wit, I do not have, nor have I ever had, truthfully, a burning desire to create art.  Yes, I've had my enthusiasms and periodic passions.  But I've honestly never felt this hunger to express my deepest self and/or how I see the world, as visual art.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm not a good artist, and I'm not seeking outside confirmation or support.  I know that I am a very creative person, no doubt about that.  And I've already proven to myself that I can handle well just about any medium I attempt.  And that I am capable of creating beautiful things.

This new-to-me understanding is way deeper than that.  It's also the missing link for me, the reason behind most of my artistic wanderlust.  While I've always thought I just hadn't yet found the right medium of expression for me, the truth is, I have no artistic vision, no compelling story to tell, nothing I yearn to say artistically.  No medium that I've pursued has brought me any closer to my creative source or my artistic soul.  Nothing has spoken to me deeply or been the opening through which I might tap into a vein of creative wildness or juice.

And now I realize that this lifelong search is not about the next medium or the right supplies and tools or taking a class from the next best instructor.  It's about connecting with something inside of me that feels absent at best or non-existent at worst.  And this is my truth.

I also see now that my near-obsessive looking at others' work, in all the media I'm drawn to, is not really about my wanting to do work like that or wishing theirs was, in fact, my own work.  It's that those artists' passion and self-generated inspiration is something that I've been searching for in my own work.  I see that intuitive spark in others' work.  But I don't see it in my own.  And that, too, is my truth.

What I can say with certainty is, I love color.  And I've always loved to make things with my hands.

But to answer the question, Why did I become an artist? or Why do I want to create?, I'd have to say these things:
  • I didn't know what else to do with my life (and still don't)
  • I wanted to feel like I belonged among truly artistic people (few of whom I ever really felt comfortable among, in retrospect)
  • A part of me always wanted to be able to express the beauty or truth of the world visually through the filter of my soul (which I've never been able to do), although a perhaps bigger part of me has always preferred to just see the world for what it is and not try to recreate it
  • To prove to myself that I was as capable as others of expressing themselves artistically (as though I would be a lesser person if I didn't or couldn't)
  • To justify my vast expenditures on art supplies, which I've always been drawn to possessing (as though having the accoutrements of art making would guarantee that I could become an artist)
  • I wanted to be hip, in the know, wild, outrageous, flamboyant, free within, and I always saw or imagined artists to be these things
  • I thought that by creating, by actually doing the making of art, that that compelling need I've always lacked would magically create itself
  • I felt that I should be an artist, that it might be the right thing for me to do, in light of my technical, mechanical capabilities.

A longer-than-usual post here.  Thanks for staying with me.  I hope you don't feel like you need to tell me that I'm being too hard on myself.  It's not about that at all.  It's about telling the truth.  And as they say, "The truth shall set you free."

So I've called an art making moratorium for myself for now.  I'm reading other art making-type books (as opposed to how-to books) and listening and exploring within to find my muse.  I'd really like to stay away from trying another creative fix until something emerges from inside me that's just dying to be expressed artistically.  The allure of my three dozen bottles of Golden Fluid Acrylics, though, is pretty enticing.  So we'll see what happens.  I'm not making myself any promises though.


ileneharris said...

You, my friend, are a writer. Honest, open, brutal, tender. The whole shebang...

Jacki Long said...

A great honest post Connie!
It will happen.
It's all there!
Enjoy the unfolding. ♥

Trece said...

I so totally GET this!! I have no desire to learn to paint, make ladies, or faces, or to sketch. I have an insatiable need to BELONG, to be accepted.
I enjoy looking at the work of others, and some I would like to "copy". BUT - no burning desire to be an artist.
I write, that is what I would be lost without, if I couldn't do it. But again, writing for ME.
Glad to see that I am not alone.

The Idaho Beauty said...

I've always known that having a vision is key to most success. For instance, if you want to lead a group, be its president say, you have to have a vision for the group, what you want to see it accomplish. Hopefully, the members agree with your vision. Without vision, the group just muddles along doing nothing much and certainly nothing cohesive.

I can see from reading your thoughts here that making art is much the same. There's art and then there's ART that expresses a vision. And you are right - it is something that comes from within and without it, all art making feels a bit empty (speaking from experience). When you suddenly stumble across your vision and can make it tangible in your art, it is the most uplifting feeling in the world.

Good luck on your journey to discover your vision, whether it be art related or not.

Corrine at said...

Love your truth full post. It will be with quiet interest that I will join you on your journey to anywhere but here....I too can relate to the trying all these things, but I have finally begun to settle on journaling and stitch because they bring me joy and that's my reward. xox

Leslie said...

...the truth is, I have no artistic vision, no compelling story to tell, nothing I yearn to say artistically...

Me too. Exactly. Except I don't feel the lack as keenly as you do. I just shuffle along and keep making stuff. Over the years I've settled on a few things I enjoy more than others but I still have the art supply yen, the urge to take yet another class.

I'll be curious to see what you come up with. Good luck.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

Thank you for putting this out there. Always an honest contemplation.

What can I say that doesn't sound so...oh yeah, me too?

I have always craved drawing, mainly charcoal, supplies, coloured pencils ...well anything stationary and art related. When I was younger I drew a lot then completely stopped. Getting older I gathered some quilting supplies and have many pages of art ideas....but nothing tangible to show for it. I love to look at art, especially prehistoric, sculpture, drawings and yearn to be able to create something powerful from within. Love installation, love textile art....
But I look at the world around me and think "the natural world is so wonderful how can anything I create even touch on a part of its glory". This doesn't particularly bother me but I would like to find my muse. A Jill of all trades, perhaps the muse doesn't have to be found in high art.

Still not all 'great' artists give us a vision that is necessarily deep from within. When I was studying, out of curiosity, the influence of prehistoric and early art and sculpture on famous modern artists I was amazed to see how much the vision of the earlier artist was being recreated and it seemed to me. just altered some. I am talking mainly about sculpture and abstract art. I don't think they were being terrible original in that case. More like working in a series from an outside inspiration. I'm not sure that is being terribly driven to show your inner idea. When I find my notes I can be more specific but it is surprisingly wide spread.

Perhaps we see ourselves as 'too honest' to want to claim an influence and so keep on looking for the inner idea.

I must admit that discovery has loosened me up a little.

Perhaps I will settle for pottering around without too obviously trying for art. It is better than many things I could do.

Mind you I always thought you could explore (in a series?) the circles, the golden, black and grey colours in a paint, textile or paper combo in a rectangular format 18" by 24". I love the idea of the raised textural surface. Thinking of the barbed wire one I loved so much.

What I can obviously see is that you write with great insight. How about something in local or otherwise papers about what you are talking about. There must be millions like us.

Anyway you are my muse so looking forward to the rest of the journey.

john said...

I love the honesty and rawness of your thoughts. There is something going on inside you. I see the evidence. Your new path toward whatever will come, let it. Which I think you are doing.

Judy Martin said...

Connie, it is rare when blog posts come up that are so vulnerable.

I will go against the grain here and say that you just have not yet found your true medium. It seems to me that you are an artist, in all the very best senses of that word.

And you are also a writer of importance.


Jeannie said...

I read this post this morning and thought about it all day. It touched my core. I wondered how you got in my brain and listened to my self dialogue the past couple of months. :) You expressed so much of what I have felt. What surprised me was that you feel this way, too! I think of it as the hummingbird mind - flitting from flower to flower trying to find the sweetest one. I have always wanted to create what is in my mind, but stumble. I have made myself slow down and figure out what it is I want. I know that I love color, I love to wield a needle, and I see things differently. Finding what makes us happiest is important, but there comes a time when chasing rainbows becomes an obsession. I have figured out that I need to create for me. The process is what I love, the end result doesn't really matter. I could go on for hours, but I think you know what I mean. Hugs and thank you!

verdigrisrose said...

Hi Constance,
I am not afraid to say...Me Too!!!
Every word sounded like it came from my own head, and heart.
I want to be there when you find what you need about all of this...
Purely selfishly of course...

Aussie Jo said...

Wow, that certainly hit a chord with many of us.
Don't know of it will help with your journey but here is my personal account:
I have felt an unbreakable connection to textiles from about the age of 10 when I messed around making stuff both by myself and with my grandmother. I believe this is a family thread that has come down through the generations to settle on me.
I have been doing stuff with textiles for the past 43 years and have finally decided to build myself a studio create art seriously. The technique to choose is not an issue-I will use any technique that fits the purpose- I see the messing around, classes etc as essential to continuing the development of my repertoire of techniques to call on as needed.
My burning passion to speak is also something I have been doing all my life, but especially over the last 30 years when I have been involved in environmental groups and teaching environmental education. The destruction of planet earth by over consumerism, laziness, corporation greed makes my blood boil and this is what I will be pouring into my art- hopefully using various devices such as humour, intrigue, beauty as well as the plain old sledgehammer approach.
Perhaps finding your passion means thinking laterally about what you feel deeply about and developing your voice through that.

Jan said...

I love your honesty and bravery for writing this and sharing it. I can relate very well. And it's okay, isn't it. I can still make my art and it doesn't have to be deep but as long as I enjoy it, that is enough. I used to be addicted to buying fabric and finally I told myself to just go for one month without buying any at all. That broke my habit and I rarely buy fabric any more.

Now I buy paint and glue and paper and stamps and and and.....I guess i need to take a break for a month.

Peggy Lynn said...

I enjoy whatever it is you choose to share here...

Maggi said...

You certainly have been doing some soul searching lately Connie and I thank you for sharing that. Wherever your path leads you, just enjoy the moment.

Judy Sall Fiber Art said...

Beautifully put! I confess, I always wanted to paint like Van Gogh without the inner torment he experienced, but deep down it has always been love of color that has driven me. I really admire your thought process... you truly have a wonderful ability to put your thoughts into words. Thanks for sharing them!

Linda Gibbons said...

Wow, Connie! I have never read anything so true, or so beautiful and brutally honest. I think many of us in the "art" community relate to this on a deep, deep level I know that I "want" to be a journaller, but really, what do I have or need to say...
I have stopped trying to imitate, and am still struggling not to compare.
Bottom line, I am enjoying the process, whatever the outcome, and it makes me happy.
Some people meditate, some play solitare for hours, some read all the time or whatever...this is what I do...

Thank you so much for putting it all into words.

Karen Isaacson said...

You've so beautifully put into words so many things I've struggled with myself, and you're asking yourself important questions. I love this post because you are evaluating yourself without judgment. You are recognizing and reflecting without disparagement and it makes the message so much more powerful. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Marilyn said...

Hi Connie- found you while on Jacki's blog. I admit that my feelings are almost identical to yours. So glad to know I'm not the only one.
Great post!! I'd love to swap mail art with you.

Charlton Stitcher said...

What a thought-provoking post ... I'm not sure today that I'm going to do you justice as I know there's so much that I'd like to say to you but it needs thought and consideration, which right now are in short supply for me.
Your work is amazingly varied and maybe that's not a problem. Maybe it's what has sustained you through your artistic life. It has certainly given huge pleasure to all those of us who see it and who read your blog.
I'm going away for 10 days tomorrow and perhaps when I come back, I will visit this post again and try to say something more profound.
Good luck and godspeed,

MegWeaves said...

Let me see. I've always been puzzled by artists/makers who say, "this is me," pointing at an artwork they made. It's been an important point of difference that I label what I make as "what I made." That in my mind points to very different starting points/motivation.

I don't have a burning "desire to create", but I want to make pretty things, and if on occasion if I can feel I have the ability to whip some up, all the better. (And you know the outcome is usually less satisfying because of my technical weaknesses.) And my inspirations are often old curtain and upholstery fabrics.

I'm a slow learner but more to the point I have too much stash and resources to switch disciplines, which luckily have taken away my option to switch; luckily because I usually give up all too easily if my first piece doesn't turn out spectacular.

You know some writers, and other artists, claim a higher power made them "do it", and they were mere scribes? Would these be inner motivation or something else?

These are the disparate thoughts that came to me while I read your post and the comments.

Threadpainter said...

We 'artists' are our own worst critics, aren't we ?
Bravo to you for being brave enough to say what lurks in all of our heads !
We expect so much from ourselves ... going way back when, as children, we were asked 'what are you going to be when you grow up ?" Naively, I said 'I'm going to be a famous artist !" Hah !
Love reading what you write !

Irene said...

Well, to me it sounds like you are desribîg an artist. I have met people who do not have a tenth of your talent who call themselves that. But I do understand what you say, but I think that is just one point of view of what defines an artist. Picasso only had one trick. You have dozens.

Jan said...

Connie, I can't help but say "thank you!" for this post. I too have been "searching for my artist voice" for years, pursuing whatever technique strikes me as fun or "cool". My studio is filled with stuff. Yet it is only recently as I returned to working with fabric that I feel satisfied with creating. I don't know that I've found my voice. But I do know that I'm enjoying the process more now than I have in the past few years (when I was trying my best to do art journaling and never quite "got it." Again, thank you for expressing what so many of us seem to be feeling. Enjoy your journey.

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