I was in my studio with the start of another piece in my hand when all of a sudden a voice in my head scream STOP! WTF are you doing!!! Three exclamation points; 3!
Right there and then, I turned off the light and closed the door and walked away.
I didn’t feel a lot of anxiety about it, because lately, being in the studio was more painful than not. I thought, if that’s it, that’s all I got, then that’s all I got. I turned my focus more to my web design business, and then there was that eBook I wanted to write. I could keep myself busy, life as I know it isn’t over, is it?
Then I started a subliminal exploration. I looked at other artists’ work and made mental note of what spoke to me. Why did it speak? What did it say? How does that relate to my practice? Only in hindsight am I conscious of those questions. At the time I figured my role was that of art appreciator, because if I couldn’t make art anymore I could still appreciate others art and maybe I could become some sort of art advocate. Or something?
A few times I went back into the studio and tried out a few ideas but the process was a struggle. I lost interest and found my own work was boring me. Not a good sign. I know now that I was going through a process, a process of elimination. I was throwing things at the wall to see what stuck, only nothing stuck, or so it seemed.
I’ve known for a while that I needed to get my work to the next level and if I couldn’t, then I have obviously reached my pinnacle and that’s that, it’s over, I don’t have anything more. And oddly enough, like I said, I was okay with that, because I’d rather stop making art all together than make mediocre art. Talk about being all or nothing!
Then I did something that I didn’t know I was doing until now, while writing this actually. I did what they call “burning down the house”. It’s a process where you analyze your practice to pull out the strongest parts, the parts that resonate. Identify those and move forward with them. Okay; but up came everything. Every bit and piece, literally, every bit of fabric, every piece of this and that, everything I had; photographic images, all the patterns, thread, found objects, old work. EVERYTHING, was in my studio and I tried to make new work from ALL of it. This was my stuff, and my stuff, was painful.
I turned off the lights and closed the door, again, only this time it was metaphorically. It was time to forget, forget what I was doing, what I was saying, forget it all. Let it go. I’m done with that. Good bye and good riddance. Ah, ha, I burnt down my house! Because looking back was preventing me from going forward. Say that again…
Looking back was preventing me from going forward.
A while later, a day, a week, I don’t recall; I stepped outside with my favorite, a cup of coffee. I was just standing there taking in the woods, the smell of the forest, when a question popped into my head.
Inner Voice: What do you like doing the most?
Me, without hesitation: I like the act of twisting a book, hot with wax, into a shape to see what happens. I like starting not knowing where I’m going.
Inner Voice: Then why don’t you go and do just that.
So I did. I did ONE thing. I answered ONE question.
Sometimes you need to withdraw, closed the door, shy away from social events and media. I needed to incubate. I needed to burn down the house and only by burning down my house could I build a new one based on a the existing foundation.