Sunday, April 27, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about the types of creative acts I've been performing lately and how contrary my approach has been to each different kind . First, I have always been a writer at heart. I love to play with words to get certain responses from my readers. This is a very delicate craft, and often requires many re-writes; adding or deleting a single words can change the entire direction a story goes, or elicit an entirely different reaction from a reader. It's a controlled sort of art. The piece is not finished until I declare it so, and I am the one who finalizes each sentence. This may not be the best approach, and perhaps its what holds me back from being more productive, but it is what it is...right now at least.

The other type of art is what I've been working on most lately. I've been gravitating towards art that involves loss of control at some stage of the process. Gardening, watercolor painting, pottery--all involve the artist setting the stage for the final piece, then backing away and watching what forms. In our garden there is one corner where I created a nice cutting garden---but this spring the bergamot and primroses have spread like crazy, and a few of the cutting flowers have succumbed to winter's chill. It's a totally different place from last year, and I can choose to either spend money and time to wrestle it back to what I originally wanted it to be, or watch and see what this new garden becomes as the season progresses.

With pottery, I created forms and dipped them in glazes, but during the firing process the clay shrunk, the glazes spread and interacted with one another, and what came out looks very different from what I thought it would be--not bad, just unexpected. And the same thing happens every time I pick up my watercolors. The pigment drips and slides across the page in barely controlled chaos, sometimes producing magical results, sometimes puddling into a muddy mix.

Somehow I'm becoming more comfortable with all this chaos in my art. I think I have to be, or I will be unhappy with anything I produce. Just as the act of creating it takes on an increased importance in my life, the act of appreciating the unexpected must also become something sacred. So I'll be doing minimal restructuring in the cutting garden this year. I'm going to go with the flow and add in a hummingbird feeder...and just see what happens...

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