Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Working Progress"

How do you get the momentum of work flow going in your studio?  What warms up the creeping coldness that you sometimes naturally encounter? As artists we can't help but experience feeling hot and cold.  Whatever your cirumstances, life brings lots of distractions, sometimes stress, tension, pressures and anxiety. 

In the past few months I've relocated to a new city.  I have traveled between my  live/work loft space in Los Angeles to San Francisco for work/  family time.  It has been a smooth transition outwardly with everything falling into place easily, but the internal adjustment has interferred with working steadily in the studio.  

It's natural  for conflict to set in  between life and art when major transitions happen.  In reflecting on my process lately, I realize  a strong need for longer periods of solitude in order to settle in.  The environmental adjustment and transition carries weight, but I have been persistent  in pushing through by showing up in the studio.

There have been incremental productive sessions but mostly  chaos, studio messes, many mistakes, ruined materials, starts and stops, and frustration.  I realized several days ago that you must embrace the visceral sense that you can't skip the parts of the process!  When it doesn't work out, you can't be attached.  This attachment and disappointment brings on the coldness.  Persistence and patience can feel unbearable at times especially when you know the work is wanting to move somewhere else.  

If you have a ritual that helps you get back to picking up the  thread, or to the place that helps you enter the zone of working, then do it.  I have my ritual and it's simple.  "Circles".  That's it.  When I'm stuck, I make circles with whatever is near -- pens, pencils, paints, crayons.   It symbolized the circular flow of life.  I do it for hours, days, weeks -- until I don't want to do circles anymore.   And then, I shift.  It's a form of warming up when nothing is calling me yet.  I call my freeze an  'alienation from self'.  This  temporary disconnect that happens can disengage one from the artmaking process.  

Here are some progress shots of working -- keeping the tension outside the studio and turning my full attention to engage with the work.  


This is the first post from my new place at the SFAC - Santa Fe Artist Colony!  I will  be getting back to this blog regularly and hope you'll stay tuned!  

Author, Joan Didion’s “Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” --  excerpt from her "Self Respect" essay. 
It is the phenomenon sometimes called “alienation from self.” In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.