A childhood friend messaged, “How’s your creative process doing at this time?” I replied that I hadn’t heard a single complaint from an artist about self-isolation, myself included. What I’d noticed instead were artists experiencing a collective, organic re-assessment of what their work means and their art’s purpose. I’d been reading about a guru who’d suggested that whoever we were before the pandemic would only be magnified during self-isolation. I thought perhaps the same could be said for our work, or maybe the crisis would instead crack open a global, creative breakthrough. In art, these breakthroughs can be total reinvention or a leap from the springboards we’ve been building. Here are a few ideas:
1. Look at your last piece before lockdown and re-see it in the context of today. This doesn’t have to be literal — a poetic nudge or new energy is equally valuable.
2. Pull back to all of your work from the last two years, and reassess the over-arching themes. Can your paintings provide a clue to who you are becoming today? Where might they go now? What might they mean to others?
3. Is there a corner you can turn in technique, subject and energy that will push new creative, spiritual, material and emotional needs to the fore?
4. Now put it all aside. Is there yet another way, or even a new medium in which to tell a story you had not, until now, found the moment to tell? Or a story that has only just arrived?
5. Lay five blank sheets or cards in front of you and assign to each a theme. If “theme” is too strong a word, then substitute it with, “vibe.” Connect your five “states of being” to your old work. Now, imagine them for a new world.
PS: “He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” (Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera)
Esoterica: In Gabriel García Márquez’s biography A Life, Márquez told writer Gerald Martin, “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” Lying in bed listening to the wind, I noticed my imagination’s silent, hidden questions growing louder. The rain crackled on the wood roof and I pictured the falling snow in the high desert. Our spring sleep has hushed the urgencies and distractions that have shielded us from our abysses and highest expressions. “This is not the inert silence of a stone, but creative silence,” wrote Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “We have to find it for ourselves. We decrease activity until silence becomes creative, and we sit in creative silence and close the gates of perception for insight into the content of life.” Our secret lives may have a chance, now, to step into the light — their wishes explored and perhaps even made champions.
“There is always something left to love.” (Gabriel García Márquez)
Artist Luisa Rivera’s illustrated, 50th anniversary edition of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is here. Her illustrated edition of Love in the Time of Cholera is here. Both of these editions are in Spanish.
I wish each and every one of you well during this global health crisis and encourage you to flatten the curve by staying at home with your creative materials. I hope our Painter’s Keys community can be a source of friendship and creative inspiration during this time and always.
In friendship, Sara
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“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” (Gabriel García Márquez)
We all need beauty, especially at a time when it appears to many that the world is in chaos.
Painting is the way I view my life, and it helps me keep my mind straight and my eyes on the positive. I look for beauty wherever I go. For that reason, I know that my life will not be long enough to paint all the ideas that I have.
I am painting because the Lord put the passion and desire in my heart to glorify Him in this way.
I have dedicated my life since 1983 to creating a body of work that testifies of His Creation, majesty, power, beauty, life and love.
Light and how we see it on the earth is the subject of all of my paintings.
I paint the landscape because I believe that we can see the Creator in His Creation, if we just look for Him there.
Since all who are sighted may see our surroundings, I believe this is one of the most evident ways we may see Him.
If I were to give a name to my entire portfolio of paintings, I would call it “The Sight of Heaven Touching Earth.”This Scripture, Romans 1:19-20, is foundational to all of my work: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse.”
Beauty, order, and the possibility to love is all around us—all we have to do is want to see it.