'A Thousand Words'
oil on canvas 2015
If you know me in REAL life, the life in which if you were to give me a
thumbs up you might accidentally poke me in the eye, you will know that I have a love of reading and that my spare moments from art and mothering are filled with novels, biographies and self-help books. I am always on the search for my next good read.
So when 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert popped up in my Instagram feed and received ample praise from an art friend, I raced like a crazy person to the bookshop. Yes, I have read 'Eat Pray Love'... no, I did not love it. Yes, I have read 'The Signature Of All Things'...
no, I did not love it
, well, I kind of liked it...anyway, the moral of the story is, 'Do not judge a book by its author's previous releases!
I devoured 'Big Magic'...it fed my soul with the same frenzy that hot chips are to a seagull. 3 days and I was done, then I headed back into it with my fluorescent highlighting pen to feast on it all over again. Well written common sense..stuff that most creatives will already know but when written in black and white makes you want to yell "yes, yes...YES!"
The catch phrase of the book is 'Creative Living Beyond Fear'...and don't we all want that?
Don't we all want to live peacefully with both our creativity and its constant shadow, fear? I know I do. I have spent many sleepless nights questioning my need to create. The "WHY do I do this?" as much as the 'HOW can I do this?"
Gilbert writes that inspiration finds us; that all ideas are out circling in the universe and are just waiting for the right recipient to be open to grabbing it...this is the only part of the book I didn't quite agree with. I would rewrite that we are gifted inspiration and ideas and the need to explore them by God.
'Big Magic' explains how to meet our inspiration head on...to give ourselves permission to live a creative life; that we are creative beings (each and every one of us whether you know it or not) and should be actively spending our lives creating... something, anything.
oil on wood
And guess what? Our art does not have to save the world or even be remotely serious or life changing to anyone other than ourselves. What a relief!! I know many a time I have argued with myself that my art has no meaning; that it's just pretty pictures and I won't ever get anywhere without some deep, darker meaning and angst behind my work; that I need to hang up my cardigans and put away my pearls, stop polishing my silver spoons and go re-write my life with some hardship in it...what a load of s**t. I'm painting for my own pleasure, as I am, with my story and if anyone else happens to like what they see and it adds meaning to their life, well then, that's just a happy side effect (and with any luck a financially happy one at that!) Ultimately though, I am making my art because I LOVE to make MY art...and that's OK, even if it gets stacked gathering dust in the attic.
Gosh Lizzie...your thought process sure does take the pressure off.
But wait......there is a paradox to all this. Art is absolutely meaningless...and deeply meaningful. Yep. Both.
Art needs to be the most important thing in the world if we are to live insanely creative lives...and art should also not matter at all if we are to live sanely. Both spectrums need to be visited and regularly...to be fully, unquestionably committed to your art and yet able to completely rework or ditch an idea if it doesn't work and to not allow this to unhinge you emotionally. Dig deep...then let it go, let it gooooo.
Art takes persistence, continuous learning and a day job to finance it...demanding that your creative pursuits earn you a regular cash flow does nothing but harm your inspiration. Keep your creativity safe from financial demands and you will find it flourish; demand it make money and your timid creative spirit will curl up in the corner where the dust bunnies live. Look after your creativity and treat it with kindness and it will look after you with greater inspiration and enjoyment...and possibly, just possibly a few $$. Don't bank on it though...
oil on canvas - 2015
Now that you are not placing financial pressure on your art, you have the freedom to paint what ever and however you like...be who you want to be, paint what you want to paint, write what's in your heart. It doesn't matter! Just get it done. Work your tail off and know that no matter what happens, you've put in your best fighting spirit.
A life lived creatively is a life well lived...art, writing, music, any creative pursuit that is achieved and lived with love, courage, passion and persistence is a vocation and when viewed as something that you will do despite all the obstacles, against all sound advice and against all odds, it makes for the most interesting life.
Toward the end of 'Big Magic', Gilbert writes about Trust. Fierce Trust. The trust you need to keep on putting out your work regardless of the outcome...whether that outcome is success or failure. Do you trust your love of creating enough? To do so is truly fierce trust.
But what else is there?
Would you choose to do nothing just because you might fail?
No, no , no , no , no...Thank you Elizabeth for your 'Big Magic'. Now I understand where I'm at. I've gotta do this art gig no matter what. Cause I LOVE it and I am going to trust it.
So go forth my friends...Make space for your art, unburdened by the need to be successful in anyones eyes but your own. It's so worth it.
But first, race to the bookshop like the crazy artist you know you are! 'Big Magic' is awaiting you.