“What happens with you when you begin to feel uneasy, unsettled, queasy?” wrote American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron in her 1996 book, When Things Fall Apart. “Notice the panic, notice when you instantly grab for something.” For artists, we may make sense of the discomfort of creative inquiry by giving it a name and influence. A genuine self-delusory avoidance activity is better known by its power-handle: “Block.”
“The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality,” wrote Pema. Creativity, in all its forms, requires this probe of inquiry. It tracks the riverbeds of desire, self-doubt and self-belief in search of grit — the kind reserved for those willing to question the most essential systems of human belief and behaviour. Initially, your block is an imagined syndrome — a form of creative blindness, a refusal of heartache that tortures anyway, and if left unchecked, can fester into a permanent condition. Block is dangerous to the spirit but can be useful on a path to rebirth. Instead of trying to overcome the pain of block, you can manage its influence with the invention of new systems. Here are a few ideas:
For one month, tell no one what you plan to make.
Set no production goals.
Disregard your known style and subjects.
Set aside for the moment anything that requires salvaging, fixing or finishing.
Skip the planning stage.
Think of a technique that you’ve always wondered about but were afraid is too difficult, has already been done, or is irrelevant to your existing practice.
Without external research and with your own hands, try to discover its secrets through trial and error.
Apply your fumblings to a small, new project that can be explored in one sitting.
Now begin three separate small projects, simultaneously.
Employ an hourglass if it keeps you at it.
“This is how you do it,” wrote Neil Gaiman. “You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
PS: “All roads are blocked to a philosophy which reduces everything to the word ‘no.’ To ‘no’ there is only one answer and that is ‘yes.’” (Victor Hugo)
Esoterica: Ask yourself: If there were no results, no audience, no praise, no gold, no easel triumph, would you still squeeze out and begin? The world is littered with would-be makers, too certain of the pointlessness to even begin. Luckily, we are not among them. “That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. Everything is in process.” (Pema Chodron)
“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” (Pema Chodron)
Join award-winning Plein air painter Sharon Rusch Shaver as she conducts her next exciting workshop in the south of France. Van Gogh’s bronze foot-steps dot sidewalks in the exact locations for his paintings in this beautiful city lined with rows of towering chestnut trees. Painting daily in your chosen medium: oil; watercolor; pastel; pen and ink artists as well as photographers will find plenty of inspiration in this city bathed in Mediterranean sunlight. Daily demonstrations and one-on-one help will be provided for those wanting to learn how to speed up and work quickly capturing that fleeting light and color in their paintings and with photos.
Chef prepared gourmet meals are served in the shade of the mulberry trees in the garden of this large comfortable country Farmhouse Maison only a few miles from the city where you will have a well-appointed ensuite room with views of the countryside for your stay. All-inclusive* 9 nights accommodation, transfers, meals, and instruction. Go to: Adventure-Artists.com
I seek to paint the essence and beauty of the natural world, land and sea impressions, textured nuances of tree bark or beautifully imperfect jars of clay.