What has been uncovered while in the rabbit hole? The many sides of Alice, the peculiarity of life and the nonsense of trying to understand others and their realities, and the many dark shadows surrounding the creation of Alice in the real world. And as life imitates art, my own plunge into a rabbit hole has revealed nonsensical situations, people and dark shadows as well.
I've got a pile of books in the studio, and I pause to read and reflect while contemplating the paintings in their various stages. Permission to Feel (recommended by blogger, reader and artist extraordinaire Dotty Seiter) has been a map through some of the more challenging parts of my own Wonderland. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay, has me teary and grateful. Journey of the Heart, by John Welwood, has me nodding and feeling seen in the world of sensitive hearts. And now, these and others are interwoven here in the studio with Alice and all the symbolism of an extraordinary, timeless story.
Let's head off together, dear reader, on the next adventure now. TTFN, Alice. I'm sure we'll be back again. xo
Here in the p-a-u-s-e there is a big grin. In the documenting (a spreadsheet which I have kept for over a decade) I recently typed 1600. As in 1600 paintings. One thousand six hundred pieces of art. And this really means something to me.
When I first began this journey from right-brained banker-type to left-brained creative, a workshop instructor, when asked how to become a good artist, said something like "There is no shortcut to being good. Paint 400 pieces. Then you'll be an artist. Or, at least you'll have some clue about what you're doing. Four hundred. There is no other way." (I am paraphrasing for sure, this conversation having taken place looooooong ago). I sat in that workshop and decided in that moment to paint 400.
At 400 pieces I did have a clue. At 800 pieces I no longer cared so much what other people thought and became rather fearless. At around 1200 pieces I sort of lost my way and totally cared about what other people thought and tried to paint for others and questioned everything. And now, at 1600, I am back to having a clue again and not giving a whip for the thoughts of many (but caring deeply about the thoughts of a vetted few).
So I am standing here in the pause, looking at this wall of drying paintings, wondering what the next 400 will bring and knowing knowing without a doubt that each of you, dear readers - those who read silently and anonymously, those who read and comment, those who read and share, those who maybe skip reading and go right to the art and those who take that art home with them - you are the melody to this rhythm. Thank you, thank you. I am so grateful. xo
Le Guin is speaking right to me with this quote. I've been pondering the responsibility I have as an artist.
I mean, we want to go into the studio thinking LET THE WILD RUMPUS BEGIN and not worry about what we're saying with our work and why. But if we want to tell a story - a story that connects with other humans, expands or explains their experiences, delights or sobers or thrills or saddens - then we've got to do it right. Which brings us 'round to being present with the process. Following the muse. Exploring the dark (and light) corners. Making sense (or nonsense) with the constant thrum underneath of the knowledge that it is sacred.
This piece lingered in the studio. I didn't know at first what it wanted, what it was saying or why I felt drawn to paint it. I know now. It ultimately whispered gently to me, a soft voice among all of the loud ruckus of the other characters on the walls.
The question becomes, what is it whispering to you?