Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are we there yet?

What I'm wondering at the moment is why?  Why is it that some projects come together so quickly while others hang on the design board for ages, half-finished or even nearly finished?  And still others are doomed to lie, inert and ignored until one day when I'm looking for something and I find them and think "Man I love this thing; I really need to finish it!"  After which I promptly fold it up and store it until the next time I look at it and exclaim over its loveliness and put it right back in the bin!
  Is it because some are easier than others?  Does it have to do with size?  Or is it the whim of my attention?  Because I started my latest piece about three weeks ago, and I'm already finished with it; while the piece I began in October, called Glacier, is still pinned to the design board waiting for even one hour of my attention to complete it.  And forget about the one that's three plus years old...  
The thing is, I like all three of them, and I really like to finish what I start, because then I feel like I haven't wasted my time, but still - why is it that I cannot seem to bring myself to complete some tasks, while others are done almost before I even realize it? 
I'm guessing that art, like everything else in my life, has its moods.  Anyway, one thing to point out, if I'm honest, is that the lack of completion usually centers, for me, around the actually quilting process; one which I feel is my weakest link as far as skill goes.  I can't afford to have someone else do the quilting for me (besides, if I'm being completely honest, to me it doesn't feel like it's truly mine if someone else works on it), and other ideas are always beckoning to me, singing their siren calls of novelty. 
So I've decided to give myself permission to have projects in various stages (I used to think I had to completely finish one project before I started another -  that practical German side of me rearing its hard, square head again) but only if I don't carry it too far and have more than three at any one time that I'm working on.  But if I'm totally honest, I will admit that currently it's more like I have five in various stages, and I've already done sketches for two more and begun cutting one of them out - oh crap, it's getting out of hand - I need to stop starting...and start finishing!
On the flip side, however, (because there's always a flip side, isn't there -gotta love that about life!) maybe art is all about inspiration, and you have to follow the thread of it when it strikes you.  Maybe that's how artists get their reputation for capriciousness - because sometimes when it hits it's all I can do to stop myself from getting up in the middle of the night so I can get started NOW (although often I just go with it, but I do try to be quiet so as not to wake up the entire house). 
And, too, I know myself well enough to see that at some point, I am actually going to want to finish those three/four/five-year old pieces and I will do so, just as someday I will finish all the pieces that my dearest mother started and didn't finish - whenever doing it will remind me of her and the special quilting days we shared with a smile, not tears.   It will all be done eventually, I know it will.  Or not - whatever. 
But not right now; at the moment I'm busy working on this little flash. 

Life is Beautiful

It’s in the eye of the beholder, right?  In other words, there is a basic loveliness in everything, you just have to see it.  It’s in a cracked bowl, a fallen leaf, even in a fencepost or a smelly chicken coop.  It’s in the air that we breathe!  Culturally our concepts of beauty are often quite narrow, and I think that’s what causes a lot of problems in our world – we’re only seeing a minute particle  of the multitude of beauty that truly exists.
There’s a beautiful thought, given to me by my teacher (although it’s common scientific knowledge, but until one truly realizes the magnitude of it, it’s just a fact) that gives me chills and makes my insides smile every time I think it.  Here is my personal happy thought:
 I am billions of years old.
Why, you might ask, does this thought make me so happy (especially considering the fact that I spend hundreds of dollars on wrinkle cream on a regular basis)?  It makes me happy because what it really means is that we’re all deeply connected.  Every single atom that makes up the earth - you, me, the air, the soil, the lamp in your living room, the bug you squashed with your shoe yesterday, the art in the Sistene Chapel, everything, be it alive or not- has been present since the earth began.  Everything is just a bunch of atoms (or smaller particles, but the matter doesn’t really matter) rearranging themselves in different patterns, over and over again. 
So we’re all billions of years old!    
And right now, we’re all (those of us reading this blog, that is) human beings, and something gave us the ability to be conscious.  We have a special ability to recognize consciousness in ourselves and in each other, and to see all the vast ways we are connected to each other and to the universe.  We get to experience the universe as sentient beings – lucky us! 
This isn’t to say that we’re all arranged the same – clearly there’s an infinity of arrangements; my guess is that we as a species have only personally experienced a fraction of a fraction of them.  But numbers aren’t the point.  The point is that we’re here now, in this current form, experiencing the universe as we are and even in our puny, miniscule way (compared to say, galaxies and stars forming), we’re able to manipulate this matter into an astounding number of permutations – to create on a material level all the truly astounding things we have created since we first experienced consciousness.  How cool is that?
"Lovely thoughts, Carrie," you may be thinking, "but what does it have to do with art - isn't this a blog about creativity?"  
Yes indeed.

 So creativity abounds – it’s inherent in everything – it’s in a line of ants dragging leaves down to its tunnel, it’s in a row of numbers that line up perfectly to balance a budget, it’s in a well-turned phrase, a light switch, it’s even in a rock sitting there, supposedly doing absolutely nothing (but its atoms are constantly in motion!) All we, the “artists”  have to do is open ourselves to it, tap into it, and see what comes pouring out.
And knowing this gives us ultimate freedom of creation.  To me, it seems like the more we realize that, the more beauty we can create of ourselves and the world around us. 
And it’s all just temporary, so while the creation is enjoyable and even maybe brings joy to someone else, ultimately it’s not something we have to take too seriously.  It’s not who we are, it’s just a reflection of the glorious creativity that is – well, EVERYWHERE!  Because some day all this stuff we’ve created (and us, too) will all be arranged into some-things - completely different - a hyena, a cloud, a wing of a butterfly, or even a pile of poo (which while it stinks, has a life force, and yes, in a cosmic sense, beauty of its own.)  
So go ahead and see the loveliness that is.  Appreciate the wonderous variety of ways that atoms can arrange themselves in people, places and things.   And create - whatever it is you create – and relax in the knowledge that it is all – so -