entry 70. [do something new]
Outside my 2nd floor sun room windows, on the north side, are three avocado trees. Each day amongst these towering beauties my imagination is ignited. There is one tree in particular, the center avocado tree, that I can see from my chair without turning or straining to look that captures my attention most frequently. Sometimes these trees feel very close, so close that I can easily imagine living in a treehouse, stepping right out onto their branches.
At this moment, I feel the center tree is in need of water. The brown leaves largely outnumber the green ones, and there has been no fruit on any of these trees in the 5 months that I have lived here. No fruit that I have seen, anyway. The more I look at the center tree, the more brown leaves I see and the more thirsty I feel. Being the type of person to help anyone in need, I go downstairs to find the hose to give this beauty some water, only to discover the hose has been locked down by the landlord. Undeterred, I fill up my largest pot with water from the sink and carry it down, wondering if 6 quarts will actually make a difference to a tree this large. I figure it can’t hurt, and offer it anyway. As I pour the water, I realize it rained here the other day, and perhaps it wasn’t that thirsty after all. Perhaps I should just mind my own business…
That’s the kind of hell my mind can produce. I am compelled to participate in an act of kindness (or an act of inspiration, joy, celebration, appreciation, etc) and do so without hesitation. Once the act is complete, my mind loves to step in and stomp all over it. My mind is a harsh, harsh judge; proclaiming all of the time that if I can’t do something perfectly or give it my ‘best’ then I’d better just sit on the sidelines and let the ‘experts’ take care of things. In this case, the ‘experts’ are either the landlord who does not live here or the gardeners who come here once a month. Surely they know better than I, even as I look and ponder this tree day in and day out…
Just where did I get these ridiculous messages? How did I learn to be so nasty to myself? Why is it, that after years and years of actively improving myself that I still bump up against the perfectionist issue again and again? Why does everything have to be perfect? Life isn’t perfect and it never will be, and perhaps that, in and of itself is perfect. The Japanese have a beautiful way of accepting the imperfections in life, a term called “Wabi-sabi”. I looked up the definition of Wabi-sabi and found this: Beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Breathe it in. I don’t know about you, but I find relief in that statement.
I start to think about my art career, and how I have reached a point where I feel stalled in the time I have to make art and the avenues available to exhibit and sell my work. If only I could afford to give up my clients and work solely on art, then I could get somewhere. If only I had more galleries! If only, if only, if only. Suddenly I realize; “If only” is the internal judge talking. “Wow,” I think to myself, “there is no aspect of my life that judge has not touched. She’s good.”
There is a squirrel in the center tree right now making quite a ruckus. I see her bushy tail darting in and out of the leaf clusters, running up and down the branches, throwing things down to the ground. I wonder what she is throwing? Surely there are no avocados. Or are there? Could there be fruit on this tree after all? She spots me, and we have a short staring match. I don’t have the same resolve as her. She wins. I go back to writing this entry, she goes back to gathering her fruit. Fruit! There are avocados in the tree! In order to get the fruit, she had to climb to the highest branches, running all over that tree, and even going from tree to tree looking for fruit.
And there it is, the message that I needed to receive today. It’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s certainly nothing new, but it is what I needed to remember. I share it with you here because perhaps there is something for you to gain in the remembering, too.
It’s not about doing anything perfectly, it’s about doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. In other words: When you’re hungry, gather food. And when you find that you’ve picked all the low fruit, head for higher ground. Or, if you’re earth bound (instead of living in the trees) take a cue from explorers; head west when you have been heading north. It is, perhaps only in the act of moving towards a new direction will you find what you have been looking for.
Entry 69. [the process]
I’m working on new art tonight.
It’s part of my new, easy-does-it schedule approach to making art; devoting a set amount of time each and every day to creating NEW work. (It’s amazing how many things I can create to distract myself from that which I love doing the most…)
My work tends to come in spurts - and these spurts are not so good for me. I’ll go a few weeks just collecting photographs, collecting ideas, writing stories and poetry but not creating much of anything - and then suddenly lock myself away for days and days at a time to finish a new piece. That’s binge creating. (Much like binge drinking. No no no, I don’t do that…not anymore) Binge creating is how I made the last piece, “The World is as You Are”, and the one before that, and the one before that…
So, step one, is to make something new every day. Even if it’s a new brush stroke.
Aside from this binge creation work habit, I have come to notice some things about my process that I’d like to share with you.
But first, a little story to help it along.
I went on a trip last weekend. A beautiful 5 days in the wild - slept in a dome (or was it a yurt?) sleeping bag, flashlight, food in a cooler…ya know, roughing it. Yeah, I know very little about camping, and I know this wasn’t exactly roughing it, but it was close. For me. I carelessly packed for this trip, throwing everything in the suitcase (yes a suitcase to camp) at the last minute. I get to the site and what do I realize? What did I forget to bring? Pajama bottoms. Yup. I slept in jeans for 4 nights. Tight jeans. It was fine, I made do, but unfortunately, that’s what I tend to do with my work, too. Forget something that would make a huge difference in my level of comfort.
The truth is that when I set off to make a new piece, I am hugely unprepared. I have an idea, of course. But that’s about all I have. A core idea, that when the piece has declared itself finished will be plain as day - and until the piece is finished, the core idea might be a little hidden at times. That’s when I’ve learned I have to have faith. Or pretend I have faith.
(I only need enough faith to get to the end…)
Despite the fact that I have hundreds of thousands of photographs of what I call firewood (firewood are the details in my photomontages) at the ready, I still have to go out and shoot specifically for each piece. Each piece is a fickle being with its own drama, its own point of view, its own, destiny, if you will.
I’ll be working on a piece and suddenly t hink, “ooh, I need to add wings, how about bat wings?” And then I have to figure out where I can go to photograph bat wings. That’s what I meant when I said this was an action and reaction process.
But I love it. Deeply.
Starting new work tonight, I was going through my antique photos.
As is always the case this early in the game I am impatient, excited, and a little obsessed.
This piece is one that has been incubating in my sketchbook for a long time. At least a year. (I should really date those sketches, eh?) It is a piece inspired by Barber’s Adagio, an old friend, an old dream, an old crush, and the hope that lives at the bottom of all those things.
So what am I doing writing this photoblog???
There was a time where I’d write these silly little photoblogs about my day, and I’d write them each and every day. I’d include quick iphone images from the day and insights I gleamed along the way. That was a year ago, maybe more. Writing these photoblogs is something that has been on my to-do list each and every day since. (How sad is that?!?! Procrastinate much?)
I rather enjoyed writing them, hopefully I can be disciplined enough to write at least a couple times a week. We’ll see!
It’s a Benihana Xmas! Merry Xmas to all! (Taken with instagram)
New candles with my art! (Taken with instagram)
Trains are sexy (Taken with instagram)
Love. By my treasured friend Beauchamping (on Etsy) (Taken with instagram)
To the slaughter… #freedomofspeech (Taken with instagram)
Tea for two. (Taken with instagram)