April 25, 2008

The Artist's Way

I’ve been a blocked artist for a long time now. It’s taken a great deal of courage to admit this. Somewhere between being a wife and a mom, and stifled by past discouragements and disappointments, and ongoing frustrations swirling inside my head, I got lost and ended up in a little corner, silent, while the voice and images yearning to come out through stories and artworks flitted endlessly in and out of my consciousness. Nevertheless, I managed to take care of my daily routine with enough sanity for my son’s sake as the artist in me slowly shriveled. In due time, unexpectedly, and quite casually, a book landed in my hands. It was nonchalantly passed on to me as another interesting read by a friend who was the former director at H.I.G.H.W.A.Y.S, where I volunteered. Or maybe, the friend could sense the pent-up artist right under my nose, whom I couldn't see as I went through the motion of willful but rather intense decorating and rearranging the store while talking about art and paintings and shirt designs and gift baskets and coffee shops and book publishing...And I had no clue the whole time that I was gasping for breath...for creative air...as I inhaled my frustrated artist's fierce struggle in a paradox of artistic passion and inhibition.

The Artist’s Way, which had traveled through several states and passed through different hands to finally land in mine just in the nick of time when I unknowingly but mostly needed it in my life, sat in my red, tin wagon for about two years, along with other books I didn’t take seriously enough to read but were merely there for skimming and for guests. Then, one day last winter, I noticed it. I would have finished reading it overnight had I not followed the book’s advice. So, I spent a whole week soaking up each chapter. Despite my couple week lapse during the holidays due to, well, holiday shopping, I managed to complete the twelve week program in about four months. It’s been about two months since I put the book down which I plan to re-read with my husband then pass on to another unsuspecting artistic soul. I must say that my experience with the book has certainly been a wild ride, but one that is liberating, exhilarating, and empowering as much as it has been emotionally difficult as I've had to revisit, acknowledge, and grieve past hurts and also face present fears head-on. But it's better now. I’ve discovered new strengths and gained new hopes to keep me afloat. I'm persisting in my creative endeavors as I experiment with the words and images that surround and fascinate me. They are starting to emerge and be written or painted, or voiced out or drawn, to be seen or heard.

I refuse to label something so specific and that affects someone so particular, with some big, vague name like coincidence, as if I just had some big, fat chance or probability happen to me. Neither was it accidental. It wasn’t luck either, not on this occasion anyway. I’d probably have more luck winning the mega million and I’ve surely had more luck stepping on dog poop on the sidewalk. I want to be as honest as I can possibly be and simply say that God intervened. This is not to shove God or religion down anyone’s throat, since I’m not a religious zealot. In fact I’ve been a skeptic and that’s about the most genuine thing I could ever be, especially on incomprehensible matters. And I currently don’t go to church. My husband, my son, and I commune with nature at the park when we’re not at Target trying to beat the mass going there from mass at noon. Providence? Well, I’ll certainly consider the book arriving in my hands as the creator’s providence in my most desperate need.

Thank God Julia Cameron trusted her inner voice and let it flow through her hand, which recorded the words that are read by many--the many who are creatively barren and are unsuspecting of it. I now realize that there’s always room for one more artist in this creative world. I just have to trust that I am indeed guided by the greatest creator. I recognize this universal creative flow and accept it that I commit to the process...the creative journey...the creative life. I'm living life more fully...with wonder.

Speaking of wonder, I finally gathered up enough courage and took a copy of my painting titled "Wonder" to Unique Bookstore this April in an attempt to put it up for sale. The owner gladly accepted for a minor fee. I actually painted it in 2006 as my first entry in a local art exhibit sponsored by the Hudson Artist Association. My only other major painting is hanging in a church reception hall, if it is still hanging there, since I don't attend anymore, and the last exhibit I participated in was years ago in college. I also hadn't read The Artist's Way at the time even though I might have had it already. Hence, I really struggled with this painting, because even though I had a strong urge to paint, I didn't quite believe in my talent.

"Wonder" was inspired by my son, of course, and the magic of a child's wonder. It symbolizes a child's awe, when it is still almost entirely innocent, unfettered, and impervious to fear, and when it could still take him to unfamiliar but possibly incredible places. Initially, I was going to paint an adult sitting on the bench for contrast. A grown-up would probably cease following the path at the fork, or crossroad, to wherever it leads and prefer to sit on the bench by the lamppost, perhaps out of fear, apathy, or mere comfort...Then I remembered the theme, so I refocused on the child and his "wonderment", that even with the slightest fear of the unknown, his great sense of awe and curiosity would continually nudge him to journey on...

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