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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Creativity; a letter to friends.

Emerging from the Festive Fog with a chest infection, I am reckoning the one is caused by the other i.e. the chest infection caused by the Festive Fiasco, not the other way round which would be rather implausible. Unless Father Christmas himself had suddenly recovered from an infection of the right lung and was able to get Rudolph onto his feet and get on out there
The above doesn't make any sense I know but it is just to paint a picture of my current state of being; grim!
All this coincides with correspondence from two dear friends who are asking me about creativity; specifically how to slip into it and start producing work.
Of course I know the answer and have endeavoured all my life to adhere to the maxim 'If you don't do it, you can't teach it' So I shake off the mental sloth which is currently haunting me after these ten days of inactivity and lock myself in my studio and start work on four paintings, coughing and spluttering all the while. And then the same old magic kicks in. The everyday takes a step back (and then disappears from my head) and I re-enter that parallel world which works by itself with me as a sort of co-conspirator.
I fuel up too with quotes from favourite artists. Here's one from Sean Scully..
An artists may have a vivid memory of his completed works, but there's little clarity in advance “I’m not in control of it: I don’t know how a painting is going to come out. For decades, I never used green in a picture, and suddenly I’m using it all the time. But I’m really not conscious of making those decisions.
Hmm, that hits it right on the nose. So of course we make the first mark. Read this gorgeous advice from Van Gogh..
 “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, “You can’t do a thing.” The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of ‘you can’t’ once and for all by getting to work and painting.”
There you are then, my friends, you have learned the magic secret 'Stop coughing and spluttering about all the things you can't do and just get on with it, because the painting will tell you what it wants just as soon as you let go of you' Got it?
It's a good idea to keep a sacred book where you can keep all such little treasures (and it must be a beautiful book by the way).
I would add to this, if I might be so bold, that it is a good habit to make marks every day; finger splodges, scratches. Anything which links hand an eye to the creative flow which is hovering nearby on standby
I'll finish this compendium of quotes by one from the artist Teresita Fernandez whom you can learn more about by clicking on her name.
' For some inexplicable reason, we seem to believe most strongly not in the actual formal lessons, but rather in those details that get into our heads without our knowing exactly how they got there. Those pivotal lessons in our lives continue to work on us in subtle, subterranean ways.'

And I'll leave you with a this photograph of a hill above Assisi, in the mountains of St Francis where we run, as of course you know dear friends, our workshops over the summer months.

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