the gift of inspiration

Hi, friends!

Are you a planner? I am definitely one. So extreme, sometimes, that I have to laugh at myself. Example: I had a conversation with my husband recently about buying my daughter a trundle bed once the construction on our house is finished this spring because they are really fun for sleepovers. My daughter is currently 16 months old, sleeps in a pack'n'play (which is currently too small for her, hence the conversation to get her a real crib), and sleepovers are at least 8 years away. We settled on a better option for a wobbler (I'm not sure she has graduated to a full fledged toddler yet).

These series of paintings began in a similar mental state  as ones I painted during the early days of my first deployment. I realized later that not only was the physical act of painting these deserts helping me to work through some undesirable circumstances, but the subject itself was not random. In these paintings, I was really connecting with the vast uncertainty (and limitless possibility) found in the overwhelming desert landscape.  I'm looking forward to pushing this topic further as I continue to navigate this stage of life!   Desert , 20"x24" oil on panel. 

These series of paintings began in a similar mental state  as ones I painted during the early days of my first deployment. I realized later that not only was the physical act of painting these deserts helping me to work through some undesirable circumstances, but the subject itself was not random. In these paintings, I was really connecting with the vast uncertainty (and limitless possibility) found in the overwhelming desert landscape.  I'm looking forward to pushing this topic further as I continue to navigate this stage of life!  Desert, 20"x24" oil on panel. 

 

While planning for contingencies can be a great thing, it has some negative consequences which vastly impact our overall well being as well as our creative processes. I've had to learn to let some things rest, like my daughter's sleepover furniture arrangements, until a more appropriate time when we have more information. Creatively, the same concept applies. I do  plan paintings, often times sketching initial ideas on paper and letting them ruminate over time, but when I try to foresee the journey a series of paintings is going to take me on, the gift of creative inspiration evaporates. Even planning what the end painting will look like can be suffocating. I plan the start... and the rest of it just happens. I rarely foresee where it will end, even if I do have an idea. Many times I can't predict what is going to inspire me to paint in the first place, and I am learning to love that uncertainty. I am learning to allow my art to take it's own journey, and to respond with paint/ink/pencil as appropriate. 

I recently finished Lewis Hyde's, The Gift, and his writing has brought new light to this concept. He says, "An essential portion of any artist's labor is not creation, so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received." He goes on to use the example of Theodore Roethke and his poem, The Dance: "I was in that particular hell of the poet: a longish dry period.... I had been teaching the five beat line for weeks- I knew quite a bit about it, but write it myself?-no; so I felt myself a fraud." Then he goes on to describe his experience of writing the poem: "Suddenly, in the early evening, the poem "The Dance" started, and finished itself.... I felt, I knew, I had hit it... I had, as God is my witness, the actual sense of a Presence- as if Yeats himself were in that room." Roethke is explaining the gift of inspiration being bestowed upon him in a way he couldn't really control, he just had to respond to. I am only a student of artists such as these, but I can see evidence of inspiration (producing much less influential bodies of work :)) in my own journey.

A personal thought on this subject is on the gift of creativity, not as a synonym for a "talent" but as the spiritual gift creativity brings to our souls. There have been many times in my life in which the act of creating was the one thing that I could do when I couldn't do anything else. In those moments, creating was grounding, enlightening, and calming. I can think of one time in particular, my husband and I were in the beginning weeks of our first round of deployments and for many external reasons I was struggling. It was difficult to even get out of bed during this time, but when I took brush to canvas, the fear/sadness/anxiety would melt away the longer I painted. It was meditative and I think my soul was able to receive peace through making when it couldn't elsewhere.  I have heard a beautiful explanation of why this is through my own Christian faith.* In Genesis 1:27, it says the God "created mankind in his own image." This passage can be dissected into many layers, however, in faith we do believe that one of the many natures of God is as a creator. By being created in God's image, we receive the creative nature of our OWN Creator! Our need to create is indicative of our souls connection to something beyond this world, and that need and desire to create is a GIFT meant to be a blessing to us! It is very cool to consider the freedom we may feel when creating is indicative of a deep part of what makes us human to begin with.

What are some of the creative pursuits that you have received inspiration through? I firmly believe that everyone is creative, and you can find creative outlets in just about anything, not just conventional "art school" subjects. I love to hear how other people see this topic!

 

 

*(I recognize not everyone shares my view on faith, and in no way do I wish to offend you! It is the driving force of my outlook on the world, so you will read about it here at times, but I welcome conversation different from my beliefs). 

I'm currently reading Lewis Hyde's, The Gift, and his writing has brought new light to this concept. He says, "An essential portion of any artist's labor is not creation, so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received." He goes on to use the example of Theodore Roethke and his poem, The Dance: "I was in that particular hell of the poet: a longish dry period.... I had been teaching the five beat line for weeks- I knew quite a bit about it, but write it myself?-no; so I felt myself a fraud." Then he goes on to describe his experience of writing the poem: "Suddenly, in the early evening, the poem "The Dance" started, and finished itself.... I felt, I knew, I had hit it... I had, as God is my witness, the actual sense of a Presence- as if Yeats himself were in that room." Roethke is explaining the gift of inspiration being bestowed upon him in a way he couldn't really control, he just had to respond to. I am only a student of artists such as these, but I can see evidence of inspiration (producing much less influential bodies of work :)) in my own journey.

I have even heard a beautiful illustration through my own Christian faith. In Genesis 1:27, it says the God "created mankind in his own image." In that, we receive the creative nature of our OWN Creator! Our need to create is indicative of our souls connection to something beyond this world.  (I recognize not everyone shares my view on faith, and in no way do I wish to offend you! It is a big part of my outlook on the world, so you will read about it here at times, but I welcome conversation which is different than my own thoughts). 

What are some of the creative pursuits that you have received inspiration through? Everyone is creative, and you can find creativity in just about anything, not just conventional "art school" subjects. I love to hear how other people see this topic!