Why I do what I do

For as long as I can remember, creating “Art” of any kind has been been more about the process than the end product. Even as a child, I didn’t draw to replicate what I was seeing, but to respond to things emotionally. I was acutely aware of how what I saw affected me, and how what I was feeling affected the way I saw.  For example, a donut will look very different depending on whether I’m hungry or not. When not distracted by hunger, I’m more inclined to notice all the different colours, shapes, textures, smells, and imagine how they might taste. I’m more aware of details, such as how the light reflects off the individual specs of sugar; the contoured edges of the glossy frosting; the spongy, rounded surface of the golden pastry…

When I’m starving, I see a singular thing: a donut.

Whenever I produce a physical, tangible, visual response to my own internal chatter, things become clearer. My muddled thoughts start sorting themselves into orderly queues instead of simultaneously clamouring for attention.

To put it another way: imagine hundreds of oddly shaped, different coloured Lego bricks scattered on the floor around you, making it difficult to step in any direction without hurting your feet. Each brick simply one part of the unsightly, stress-inducing, insurmountable MESS.

It is easy to become so focused on “The Mess” and planning how to be rid of it or how to get around it that you fail to see The Bigger Picture. But what if you were to stop, crouch down for a closer look, give each and every brick your full attention, sort through them, start piecing them together to build a single, solid something? You might see how each seemingly insignificant piece, while not much use on its own, transforms into something entirely different when connected to the others. Each little piece plays a vital role in constructing The Whole. By the end of the process, you’ll still have the same number of oddly shaped, different coloured bricks as you had before, but now there is cohesion and clarity, and more space in which to manoeuvre (For the techies: like defragmenting the hard drive on your computer)

That’s how I see the arts process; picking through the chaos in my head, examining and fitting together seemingly random thoughts and feelings until I find a common thread. Because everything is related. Nothing is random. no thought meaningless. Everything matters. The answers are, more often than not, hidden in plain sight.

And then there’s The Flow! Have you ever tried catching a feather or leaf that’s fluttering on the breeze? The more you wave your arms or move your hand, the further away it gets. When I get into that creative zone, aka “the flow”, my mind becomes very still. I’m no longer chasing or running or flailing about desperately trying to make sense of things. I’m quietly opening myself up, letting those fluttering objects drift down and settle upon me.

Externalising my thoughts, feelings and imaginings in this way also makes them accessible to others. This exposure to scrutiny and criticism terrifies me, and I do feel extremely vulnerable. So why do it?? because I feel more connected to “The World” when I am open and honest about my reactions to it.

It’s something I find very difficult to write about without feeling a tad wanky. But there you have it.

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