In a place deep inside myself I feel as though now, only just now; in these last few months, do I feel like an artist. I have been creating in many different mediums my whole life; but something recently has shifted on a very deep level. I find myself more and more increasingly in a state of flow, grace and creativity; guided by intuition and dreams. I am less attached to my own judgement of my work nor do I fear how it is received. The inner critic is no longer so harsh that I am paralysed and defeated before I have even begun. Another indicator for me that this shift has occurred is that I am now capable of creating amongst domestic chaos; and without all the different tools and materials I think I ‘need’ to create something worthwhile. I lived for a long time with a successful artist that worked in a studio I couldn’t walk through; his coffee cup perched on top of leaning towers of objects, while he puffed on a contemplative hand rolled cigarette. The only time I saw him clean it up was when he was in between big ideas.
Now I find myself operating from the same space. Piles of assorted domestic detritus are scattered throughout the house, all needing to be sorted, cleaned, mended or put away. The chaos doesn’t bother me as I am propelled by the momentum of my own creative journey. I am too absorbed thinking about a sublime confluence of words that will elicit exactly the nuanced shade of feeling I seek to express. I’m thinking about how to capture the most seductive and evocative images to accompany my words. When I feel in the flow I am filled with purpose, determination and confidence. Everyday concerns don’t exist as I delicately weave the threads of my whispered half-thoughts together. My mind lingers in the spaces between the thoughts, until the words reveal themselves of their own making. I’m not the author; I’m the observer recording whatever seeks to unveil itself. Dinner’s always running late because I’m always trying to capture the essence of feeling and if I think too much about the demands of the material world, it slips away as quickly as it came. I must let the ideas dance lightly in my mind.
When I was younger I couldn’t create without having cleaned the entire house and studio, locating just the perfect Artline felt tip pen, with just the right weight of rich creamy paper. I still have stashes of tentatively used art materials; their contents shrivelled and unusable because I doubted myself so much I didn’t really complete anything, and if I ever did I gave the piece away. Sometimes I find the sad dried out tins, yellowing paper and moth eaten fabrics alongside a rusting miniature printing press. Half finished ideas that couldn’t blossom under the weight of my own fears and insecurities. I have reams of journals with hundreds of creative ideas in a myriad of mediums; most never tackled. It all serves to remind me of how I used to be in the world; and how that particular way of being brought me into this way of being. Later I came to realize that life is mercilessly short, nothing is certain or guaranteed, perfect is a construct that exists only in the mind. Now I prefer to create while I still can because I’ll be a long time dead.
In one of my first writing journals from my early twenties I wrote Helen Keller’s words as reminder on the first page:
You’ll never have all the pieces
You’ll never have all the parts
Don’t wait to be perfect
Before you start
Then I wrote in brackets underneath (But of course I have been searching endlessly for the ‘perfect’ diary!). I never really wrote any of my own words in that journal, just copied out quotes that resonated with me in my best handwriting. I didn’t have the words for my own story then, so I viewed my life through the expressions of others. Everything I attempted was agonized and sweated over. I laboured away under a persistent feeling that I never really got anything quite right.
Later on the words of Theodore Roosevelt impacted on me in a way that still echoes now:
Do what you can
With what you have
Where you are
So simple and a creative mantra I still work with today. I no longer scour art supplies stores and the internet looking for the perfect materials. I don’t wait for the domestic conditions to be somehow just right, and I especially don’t wait until I have the ‘time.’ I have ceased saving precious things up thinking they are ‘too good’ for this or that project. I just use whatever I have at hand, tending to the unfurling idea with love and care; knowing that something treasured and heartfelt will emerge eventually.
Over time my eye and my mind has become trained towards the expression of beauty and love, the only two ongoing tenets of my creative world. Somehow, somewhere along the line I have calmed the inner critical judgement, the feelings of ‘not good enough’ and worrying about how the work will be received. Now I am much more concerned about getting it done and out there rather than getting it perfectly right. I don’t believe in perfect any more. I’ve broken up with my own impossibly high standards. This gradual process of letting go has allowed me to uncover an embryo of something, my own voice, my own authentic expression. My own unfiltered words bringing me to the raw centre of myself. At this point in time, I create from a place of giving myself permission to be all that I am as woman, mother, lover and privileged inhabitant of this fragile planet. My writing exposes me to myself; and in doing so I unravel my own medicine while creating my own path forward. I Am Here. The answer always lies within.