The Natural Order of things and Beingness
n my upstairs bedroom I have a large south facing window that looks unto a majestic honey locust tree. She looms over my balcony with delicate quivering leaves. In the summer, a deep sap green, in the fall, golden yellow. As of now her leaves have begun their departure as the post fall winds will leave her bare.
I want to be more like her, anchored and organized in her rhythm of time. But, I am not like her. I am messy, and more than I care to admit, ungrounded and often an enemy of time.
Over the years I have come to realize that this beingness of mine is where the primary thrust of my creativity comes from.Even at eight and nine years old I remember ferociously scribbling on paper in what resembled abstracted tangled knots in the shape of ovals. I then set myself the task of filling in the gaps with multi colored ink pens. Searching out the order in my chaos.
We all have dominant ways of being in this world. And in being human, crave to know the “other”. It’s the magnetic force of opposites attracting in relationship.
I have witnessed that search for the “other” in my teaching practice. I somehow give permission for the mess, as participants search to expand their boundaries of known expression.
Recently I have come across three styles of being that makes sense in not only the context of relationship but in the way we can describe the order of creating, especially in the context viewing the organizational sense of a painting or composition.
In a book entitled “Wired For Love”, psychologist Stan Catkin describes three poignant visual metaphors for distinctive ways of being in the world.
Anchors. Islands. Waves.
Three nouns that not only provide us access into a deeper understanding of feeling, but also three symbols that work in the visual narration of describing the principals of design.
In a painting we look for an anchor that might hold our attention in space. A wave moves our eye along so we are not stuck on one aspect in a composition, moving our direction and flow, and islands create the content, the main event.
It’s a generalization but in the sphere of human interaction; anchors search out ways to loosen their grip and move into bolder expression - islands explore different terrain i.e… materials and content to work, waves work to hone in their emotion and focus.
I am a messy, emotional wave. I search out anchors to bring me back to intention and islands so I might have something to crash into.
In an ideal world it’s like my honey locust tree, longing to sway with grace when change comes, yet remain fully present and grounded while recognizing the importance of our form and content and as a gift to the world. A steady pace with the natural order of things, our environments and each other.
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My friend Jens has no filter when speaking his brilliant mind. It’s a quality I admire, especially when discussing creative edges that push our limits and call out for personal growth.
Recently Jens and I were in my Santa Fe studio.
Large disheveled under-paintings I had just begun were leaning against the wall. Over worked paper pieces were scattered on the floor- in progress or abandoned? (it could go either way). They felt vulnerable, raw and not too sure of themselves.
Jens was animated as he discussed his latest project of turning mud into functionality and grace. He had just bulldozed and excavated a cave on land he recently purchased on the outer borders of New Mexico into Arizona. He was making livable space. Art.
I talked of mind clutter and the impatience /anxiety of feeling discomfort in visible vulnerability hovering around me. I mumbled something about re -creating what I had done in my last series. Exploring the tension points between the visible and unseen. Smokey clouded layers covering the ambivalence of life.
Jens leaned in close, “so are you now making fake paintings? “
I knew what he meant. I was at that edge believing painting existed in a realm that could be birthed like a machine.
I quickly responded “almost, but not yet.”
That was the truth -take the plunge of investigating the heart's longing in the now, or be an imitated version of myself set on automatic go.
Zombie Formalism is what comes to mind. A term coined by artist and art critic Walter Robinson in 2014. My definition: production of abstract painting that is devoid of passion and more concerned with how it is made. Image, shape, color, singing together in a doable composition that is pleasing to the eye.
Sometimes when hitting that uncomfortable edge, it’s tempting to go there. Production.
The how to, neglecting the deep inner crevices inside ourselves that ask of us the why?
It takes time and care to birth a project. When we are not tending to the delicate
needs creativity requires of us bridging mind to heart, a radical distrust can set in.
For me- I usually need some space to become a bit untethered from daily left brain life.
I guess my growing pains are asking of me to raise my frequency of light form the inside out. I still crave to paint just that.
And when I am still enough to wait out the unlpleasantries of my mind I sometimes glimpse the realization that my vulnerabilities are my courage moved from the outside in, waiting to swallow beauty whole.