Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Embracing you Inner Hermit

“One of the problems in having plans (appointments, meetings, visitors, travel etc.) is that it just might block out some creative act. In the process, some creative act may never get done because the mood has been broken, never to be recovered according to the original inspiration. This is why it is necessary to place a heavy guard around your thoughts and your time, so that they can't be interrupted at a crucial moment. You cannot afford outside commitments if you expect to do your real work. Those seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years are ticking away and there is no going back. You can never regain them” Quotes from RFM McInnis' unpublished biography

I keep this quote by the painter RFM McInnis on my desktop and look at it whenever I've just ducked another chore or stayed home instead of going out. It's my justification and reassurance that I'm not embracing isolation out of eccentricity, it's because I'm trying to make good art.
I've realized that I can't do meaningful work and still have a great social life; the two seem mutually exclusive. To make a significant and lasting painting takes solitude and contemplation. I put marks on, think about them, rub off some of them, layer over others and all the time I'm alone and alert to only the task of making the best painting that I can. The moment my family returns from school and work is the moment that I have to clean up and put the painting aside: no perfectly-judged marks are made after that.
This is why after a busy stretch of showing, group plein air painting and volunteering on a committee, I find my thoughts and work completely scattered and unsatisfying. I have to deliberately avoid my email inbox and any phone messages until mid-afternoon when I'm running out of creative steam and, after a few days, I can get the flow back and lose myself in painting.
The consequence of this is that I end up doing breakfast dishes at 3pm, washing floors at 10pm and sitting down at the end of the day at about the time that I should be heading for bed. But if there's a decent painting on the easel, it seems worth it.

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