I have a new artist friend, Cecilia, who lives just down the street. She works in metal mostly, and she is very good. I went over there the other day and got the tour from her and her gracious partner Meg. Their home is filled with Cecilia’s beautiful imaginings, sometimes realized in swirling patterns on copper, other times paired with the work of a close painter friend. Every piece was more moving than the last. And more strikingly, every piece seemed to have an emotional story behind it. Although we’d just met, she felt great ease in telling me about the pain behind her darkest works. I found this very endearing because I always admire people who are willing to speak honestly about themselves.
Even more memorable was the conversation we had just a couple of days ago where she told me about her process. She turns off her mind and creates using her heart, until a thing just feels finished, then – and only then – stands back and interprets it. She puts words to the meaning only after it is done. This one is about my son who died, although I didn’t see him until after I was done with it. This one is about my friend’s loss of faith, though someone else had to point out the cross that is wilting under the flames, because I didn’t see it as I was making it.
I have a writer friend, Chris, who creates fiction in much the same way. She simply puts her head down and opens her heart and writes, and invariably verbal ambrosia pours from her incredible soul. Only later does she see the connections and meanings clearly, and often only with the help of others.
I am fascinated by this. My left brain guards my conscience too closely to let my creativity flow like these women. I can create beautiful things, but my filter is always on as I do it. I know it limits me, and I would love to overcome it.
I also know that these women, and countless artists like them, offer us a beautiful gift. Exposing raw, unprocessed feelings (albeit metaphorically) that the rest of us would run through a thousand filters before releasing and even then feel burdened to analyze into digestible verbal ideas.
I’m collaborating with Cecilia on a piece right now, and later I will with Chris. This makes me very excited, but also nervous because I fear doing art this way. I fear leading with my heart.
And I fear what I will find when I stand back and look at it.
See Cecilia’s work at www.fe29com
Meet Chris at www.chriscander.com
Updated entry, October 2012: Pictures