“Writing teaches impermanence. It shows us how to move with ease from one chapter of our lives to another. It provides practice for our ultimate transition. It embodies, on the recycled flesh of trees, what is most beautiful, most holy, and most possible within us…Open the book’s covers wide and let your hearts and minds expand. Open the book’s covers wide and step back with awe and gratitude for the part of all of us that creates, that risks, and that ultimately, bids us a most fond and joyous farewell.” Laraine Herring, The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free your True Voice, Chapter 34 – Sacred Communication.
Though the reference by Laraine Herring is about writing – it really applies to all forms of creative expression (in my opinion). I’ve found many parallels between the practice of writing and painting. This particular source on writing can easily extend itself towards the context of art-making.
If I were to pinpoint a message or theme to be found in Wheel within a Wheel 118 and its creative evolution, it would be impermanence.
I have found that artworks can be impermanent and can go through stages where you have to let go of a particular creative process in order to arrive at a sense of completion for the composition. I have had to let go of this particular artwork at various points since it wasn’t connecting and I needed to move on to other paintings.
“We breathe in, and then exhale out with the sound of stories. We listen more deeply when we get in our way. We find ourselves writing things we didn’t know we felt, things we didn’t know were possible. And then these relationships, longer perhaps than many “human” ones, dissolve. They have spoken what they have to say. We have listened to what we can hear. We have built the bridge of letters between them and the rest of the world. What happens to them is no longer a part of our lives. We detach from them, or perhaps more accurately, they detach from us and we wander a bit lost for a while, missing them, wondering why we are missing them, wondering why they didn’t want to stay longer. We haunt our own hallways searching for them.
But then, if we have practiced detachment, a tickle appears at the base of our spines. A sudden obsession with peaches, or the Industrial Revolution or ant colonies. We follow intuition until a sound cracks through and our fingers sing once again.” Ibid.
It’s the wondering and searching, this being at a bit at a loss and questioning one’s intuition – a limbo transition state when making an artwork, which the creative process seems to draw from us until we yield and practice some form of detachment and let the painting go for a while.
It’s just through diligent perseverance that the painting has survived as it has in limbo. It began while I was moving. I have worked off and on for several months trying to complete it. I tried new variations but these didn’t really fit. So I set it aside for a number of months. In my view this is the impermanence of the composition.
Over the last couple weeks, I took it up again. I had fresh energy following my last two paintings.
In the past few days, I could feel a creative rhythm with the work begin anew. Most importantly of all, I was naturally drawn to the artwork again.
Wheel within a Wheel 118, Acrylic, 40 in x 40 in, 2018-ongoing
It feels fresh, open and expansive – like the sky or the sea.
I will share more updates on the artwork as it evolves.