Sunday, January 2, 2011

Striving vs. Contentment

Underpainting progression...about 1 hour

It's early Sunday morning and I've been working with Galkyd as a varnish on this underpainting of ocean waves lapping the beach. It should be mostly dry by Sunday afternoon, and ready for another layer of paint. I've applied warm complimentary colors for this layer. The next layer will introduce cool blues and greens and more local colors.

"I feel again the hunger to let go of my striving and find the ability to become content and still, intentionally 'superfluous', as writer Helen M. Luke puts it...But how in the world do I reconcile it with my fierce need to write, the deep clamor to bring forth a new creative flowering in myself? It almost bereaves me to think of unrealized potentials dying inside, the small miscarriages of self. I want to be a novelist." ~Sue Monk Kidd

The writer, Sue Monk Kidd, reminds us here of the age old creative conflict. I prefer the idea that we will find our ability when we let go of our striving and become content and still. This doesn't mean, of course, that we don't strive for better ability and further expressions of our creativity. But when we make our striving our focus all the time, I've found that we just don't paint, or create, or get anything done on any subject because we build so much anxiety around self-expression that we are blocked.

I'm intrigued by Kidd's sad picture of "small miscarriages of self". Perhaps this occurs most when we just don't strive at all...due to fear, or limited time, or self-doubt. To avoid this picture we step up to the easel and command ourselves to move a brush across a canvas until our creative self is finally engaged in giving birth to a multitude of expressions.

I suppose we must have both the striving, the anxiety of moving towards an unfamiliar creative edge, and the contentment with where we are painting order to move towards our paintings of tomorrow.

Best not to think too much about it...and just paint...I'm striving for high painting mileage this year. And, I imagine, there will be much contentment in that!

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