There is always a point in a painting, drawing, sculpture, writing music and all things creative where one can destroy what they have worked to create. In art we refer to it as "killing the painting"... there is boldness at the edge of this act.Read More
What is this thing that we do as artists, musicians, writers, photographers, etc... where we look for the next thing? Most of the time we create to participate in the act of creation. We surrender to something much larger than ourselves. We give ourselves, our time, our energy to produce a object, a sound, a collection of words, a capture of a moment, that become greater than ourselves. And we fail. We fail over and over. Most of the creators that I talk to about their work are never happy with a piece. They want the next one. They want to change the current one. They will burn it in a funeral pyre, spilling a little whiskey for its lost soul. This becomes the edge where fear and surrender dance lightly with each other in the awkward steps of teenagers at their first dance. As we produce more and more of these things. we learn to edit - which, by the way, can be another expression of fear, of holding back, or an intellectual reasoning of 'knowing where to stop'. But that is a different topic to explore...
What if we look at failure differently? With the 'lessons learned' type of mantras set aside, what if our failure is our success? What if we choose to look at it a little bit differently? Our courage to create the next object comes from that place - our willingness to surrender to failure. We find a place of intuition that guides us and there we touch trust and faith.
Therein lies the magical equation: Fear, Trust, Faith, Intuition and the Desire for the Next Thing leads to extraordinary advancements in our art and ourselves. To reach an audacious goal, we sometimes benefit from having it lie just beyond our grasp. The strength to linger over the long-left unfinished reminds us that something inexhaustible in us is empowered by striving, that we sense an unnaturalness in blunt ends of creating, of journeys.*
To surrender means not giving up, but giving over. There is power in that. As surrender is not only an act that finds you on your knees in the darkest of hours but it is a falling into a grace that gives you courage to make the next move. There is a beauty in being able to move forward from that space, it makes us human.
just show up,
* passage taken from and inspired by my current reading: The Rise, by Sarah Lewis
Reading more from the Minimalists, I found a great essay called "Create Your Masterpiece, a 16-Step Guide". The breakdown, or the idea that struck me the most is that we ALL HAVE THE SAME TIME EVERYDAY to do something lasting, or in Joshua's term, create a masterpiece. We have lives built on differences of cultures, socioeconomic standings, desires. But we all have the same 24 hours in a day. For some people that is building a business to employ others, or practicing a guitar everyday to make music that communicate who they are or in my case, creating art. The thing that has been an invaluable lesson for me during my hours and hours of creation is the knowledge that you chip away at it.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks of 10,000 hours. He breaks down the dabbler, the talent and the genius in a way that is a highly consumable read on what makes something extraordinary. It comes down to time and effort. This writing is not here to debate inherent talent over someone who has to mule their way to their passion, but it is about making it happen one hour at a time.
Over the last 6 or so years I have been more aggressive about chipping into those hours than I have in the last 20 years of practicing art. I have to admit it is scary and empowering and mostly rewarding. If you work on something you develop a pride in that "thing". I am a little slow on the uptake but it is finally culminating into a direction on how I want to spend my time. I am interested in growing as an artist, an individual and a contributor to a larger conversation. As I start putting my artwork and words out into the universe for others to consume, I give in to letting "it" happen. Whatever that is, I know that I am adding something that is greater than I am. ... and I am on to the next "masterpiece"...
Here are some great reads on the subjects touched on above: