Thursday, June 25, 2009

Creativity with Impermanent Markers

Last night, in the midst of eating the Enterprise, my mother asked how I could stand eating something I worked so hard to create.

Which started me thinking...

Enterprise Cake 1

When I was little, I once watched a documentary about the Buddhist monks making mandalas. They spent so long applying their colored sands to the different sections of intricate patterns and when it was finished, they poured the sand into the ocean as an offering. If you ever get a chance to watch one being made, it's a beautiful process. I enjoyed the process. It is as if the process itself IS the artwork, not the result. That was how my young mind saw it.

A lot of the artwork I do has a non-permanence about it. My cake creations, my garden, and facepainting are some of my favorite forms of artistic expression, but they don't exactly scream museum piece.

I think the thing that attracts me is their short life. I love creating interesting things! I love using my creativity to figure out how to make cakes into different shapes without sacrificing flavor. I love seeing how my garden looks after I've weeded and trimmed. I absolutely love the feel of painting on someone's face or arm! There is something about the challenge of a moving canvas that appeals to me.
Facepainting "Butterflies" and "dragon" Facepainting "dragon in b-ball cap"

When I finish, I share my work. I admit, I enjoy hearing praise for my effort, especially if it was something tricky, but then what? It's done. I've released it to the world and I'm ready to turn to something new. It's the way I am. The creating is what drives me (sometimes it drives me crazy, but that's another story) not the result. The result is, well, icing on the cake.

I remember how some of my art teachers would push me in high school. It wasn't enough that I had poured my heart into a lovely pencil sketch, they wanted me to paint. When I worked hard on a pen and ink drawing, they wanted to see it in color. When I painted it was either too flat or too shaded, depending on the teacher. I remember being critiqued for a sketch appearing too realistic. Why don't I try to do something more modern? What about sculpture? My teachers tried to instill the value of artwork never being "done." I know their hearts were in the right place. They were trying to nudge me into untested areas. But I never like to be forced.

I know my mother encouraged this. Her artistic ability was recognized early on. She took art classes when she was young. I remember looking at some of her pastels and oil paintings when I was little and wishing I could draw that well. I also remember her stories of how much she hated it when her parents would give away her work without asking her. If I'm remembering correctly, she understood how it felt to be pushed, so she didn't push me when she saw my ability. I guess I developed into a pretty headstrong and fussy artist. Ha! Mom unschooled me in art. Thanks mom!

My point is that I am more a vessel of my creativity. It flows through me and into the world. I don't own it, I don't control it. Once I let go of my art, I hope it makes someone happy from seeing it, but in my mind I've already started on the next project.


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Laughing Stars said...

Beautiful post! I had forgotten about those wonderful sand mandalas.

Inner Elder said...

I am very happy that you didn't feel "pushed"; call it progress in parenting! I am even more proud of how insightful you are. During my recent retreat, I realized that what gave me the most sadness was that I was "unfinished". See, I still have to work on this but your attitude about the cake is on the right track. And by the way, it,the cake that is, was delish! Love, Mom

Vicki said...

This " The creating is what drives me (sometimes it drives me crazy, but that's another story) not the result. The result is, well, icing on the cake." made me smile. See, my daughter stated a very similar thing about her costume creations. Sure she could simply buy them, but it's in the creating that she finds her joy.

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