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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Assembling the stage

What joy when the tap is open! How does this happen?
The other day I found the tap, and turned it on. Here's what happened, Something I read suddenly just went"click" in my brain, and I had a vision of a finished body of work on exhibit. Simply that. I knew that what I read could be visualized, so I wondered, if I were to visualize this writing, how would it look?

I had to assemble the stage. I needed props. Now those of you who are familiar with my book "Artist Afloat - A Sketch Journal of Britain by Canal" know that I adore sketchbooks, journals, portfolios and other collections of works created over a period of time.

This piece of writing needed (to my way of thinking) a sketchbook, naturalist"s field notebook, and a collection of notes which the fictitious character creates on her journey.The original writing described such things, and I knew that I must make the author's words into a physical visual reality.

I scavenged my admittedly too large stash of blank notebooks, and my equally cherished collection of hand made papers.

Do you believe in fortune? I believe that fortune favors the well prepared. Some months ago I purchased a blank leather journal ( similar to but different from the leather journals which I offer for sale at Pennsic.) This blank book spoke to a place in my creative mind that knew it might need it in the future, for some as yet unknown project. So I bought it, TRUSTING in the inner intuition which has never failed me as an artist.

I attended an SCA event called "The Marketplace at Birka" this past weekend at which there were hundreds of vendors of replicas of medieval things. And there it was...the leather portfolio from my vision. I trust my artistic visions. I listen to my muses. I leapt into the unknown.

Part of my process involves giving in to obsession. I know we live in a day when obsessive compulsive behaviour is seen as aberrant and something to medicate and control. And for some people it does. But for the creative person, those Magnificent Obsessions are what make the Magic happen. Ironically, yesterday I watched "Lust for Life", the intense biographical film of Vincent van Gogh's life. I sat surrounded by the bits and pieces of my own project, carressing the leather of the blank journal, the perfectly scaled portfolio, the luscious hand cast papers. After the film was over, I went to the books which inspired this project and read them quickly, flagging pertinent passages which I will use for my work. I got another sketch book and began taking notes to plan the work.

Will I sell it to the publisher of the books which inspired it? Or to the author? Do I need to attach a remunerative goal to this project. NO!!! That will limit my impulses, control my flow. I can exhibit the finished work at many venues. It is a project being created for love, not money. Well, if they want to publish it....I won't refuse. But the work is a labour of passion.

I assemble my tools, my props, my materials. I make my notes, and plan plan plan. I begin preliminary sketches.

The tap is open, I immerse  myself in the flow.

Never ignore the quiet nudging of your muse. Listen to it, abandon yourself to your work. There is nothing else.


  1. Clearly your muse is alive and well! I often feel mine is buried in the muck of daily life and details. I like your concept of giving in to obsession - allowing it to drive instead of quelling it. This is a lovely blog, and it speaks to me, although I am not an artist. At least not yet :-)

  2. Thank you for this affirmation. So often one feels like -- well, IS -- a misfit, shuffling awkwardly from foot to foot while trying to figure out what possible answer to give the well-meaning person who asks, with loving concern, "but how will this make money? Why are you wasting your time?"