Tuesday, January 31, 2012
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." Pablo Picasso
I guess here is where I remind myself "Better late than never"! I have been cursed with a creative rut since well before Christmas. I'm not talking about no new ideas or the next greatest thing here. I mean a full blown, brain cramping, couldn't draw a stick figure to save my life kind of rut. To burn off the energy normally reserved for the studio, I have had to resort to crazy, off the wall activities like scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms from top to bottom. While my wife has expressed great appreciation for these new found talents, I think even she is creeped out a little bit at this point.
My normal activity to pull out of a creative tail spin is to hit the sketch books. Draw, draw, draw... exorcise those demons; nothing. Get inspiration from the masters by thumbing through my art history books; nothing. Clean the studio? (insert laugh track here...) Nothing has worked, until now. I came across the above quote by Pablo Picasso. It struck me like a proverbial freight train. I keep a large collection of quotes in books, on sticky notes, white boards, about anything that will stand still long enough to write on. Some are famous, some obscure, but all meaningful to me. This particular quote was so painfully obvious. Inspirations for new projects have ALWAYS come to me while I'm too busy with another project to do anything about them! If I'm not working, I'm not thinking. Or even worse, I'm thinking too much. Then my brain gets overloaded and starts speaking in tongues.
The photos with this article are of a stained glass window I did for a client about ten years ago. They wanted a reminder of their Alaska property in their Tennessee home. Using photos from the property and of their plane, I designed a 40" round mahogany framed window. They were pleased with the design and I began work on what was supposed to be about a 300 piece window. Once I began work on it, there was no stopping the flood of ideas. I wanted the mountains to be illuminated from one direction. The texture in the glass had to follow the contour of the hills. The sky had to be dimensional and "soft", while the flora needed correct texture and variegation. I was buying huge sheets of hand made glass to get one or two small pieces out of the middle of the sheet. I needed more and more detail. Three hundred pieces became four, then five, and so on. When finally complete, it had over 700 pieces of glass and had consumed 14 months of studio time. It was my masterpiece, and also the last one I ever did. When the dust settled, I not only had what I consider one of my greatest artistic accomplishments, but also notebooks and sketchbooks LOADED with new projects and ideas that I couldn't get to because I was so busy with the window. I'm talking years worth of material. The ideas wouldn't stop. I would do a quick drawing of a sculpture, cut some glass, then BAM, a couple paintings would need to be sketched. It was a double edged sword. While possibly being the most creative and inspiring year of my artistic career, the obsession over the one single piece prevented me from taking any action on those new ideas. But, inspiration found me... while I was working.
I will wake in the morning a relieved man. I have the solution I have searched for.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said, "A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind".
I shall try my best to remember this in the future. With hard work and an open, free mind, creative block doesn't have a chance against me! That is unless his ugly cousin Procrastination comes along for the ride!!! May this new year be filled with many new discoveries for all of us.