2/28/09

memoir bit part one

Last November I wrote a memoir, inspired by NANO (national novel writing month) to just sit down and write 50,000 words in one month without editing or worrying about anything other than just getting the words out, I completed my story about hitting the road and finding my way to my self. That journey as most of you know, led to me living in Vermont and making art. I've yet to edit it and do anything else with it, I did open it up the other day and read the last few pages to see how I ended it. Last month was much quieter for me and filled with bigger chunks of just being and doing with less urgency. I realized that prior to quitting my massage practice and leaving arizona, for as screwed up as I was, I felt like I had some power. Power because I had a decent income. Power because I was a veteran therapist who wasn't worried about where the next client would come from. Power because I had a 'story' about myself down pat and the groove had worn wide. I realized I'm in a much more powerful place now but I haven't allowed myself to feel it or believe it. At first glance I feel less powerful because I have no steady income, I have few connections with people here other than tod and I am totally unsure of who I am anymore when I am 'out there in the world'. I felt more powerful after reading what I wrote. I realize I am growing as a person and that is ultimately more real than a job or money. These were just my thoughts and feelings about art, I'm breaking it up into two posts so it doesn't get too long. It kind of inspired me and made me feel some kindness towards myself, made me realize this whole art thing is more than just showing and selling art.

Can I even begin to relay what I have experienced and learned through my art, through accessing materials for my art, through experiencing the showing and the selling of my work? Through the encounters with others because of art? How is it I still do not understand how art itself is valuable out there in the world when I know how important it has been in my day to day experiences? There is a bigger picture and I am only seeing pieces of it. I'm not there yet. I know in my head that there is room for all of us. That we can all find a place in this life for success, health and peace. I've not been able to assimilate that into my own experiences though. Not yet. Not fully.

Take people out of the equation and there is me and art. Me in that basement sitting there working on, working with, working FOR it. It has a life of its own. It reflects back to me everything that is good, bad, ugly and beautiful. It speaks to me it yells at me. Actually it doesn't yell at me. I yell at me. It is the patient faithful dog that waits for me to shake it off and come back. Art is alive. The process of making art reflects my strengths and my weaknesses. I'm not one of those artists who makes good art when I am miserable. I don't drug myself up with stimulates or depressants and work like a crazy wizard. That’s how I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. It is in my health that I am able to create, not my disease.

You see, I’m learning patience, hope, peace and joy through this wormhole I've gone into. Art has helped pull me out of my head. It was art, or the possibility of becoming an artist that got me motivated to leave Arizona. It is art that carried me to this point. I still have fears that I won't make it. I’m worried I am not going to find a way to live doing what I love, I'm floundering financially. I've spent all my savings and live month to month somehow selling enough art or driving the taxi just enough to buy me more time. This isn't how I want to keep living and I'm completely unsure what to do next. There is still this knowledge that I have to keep making more art. This is a valuable time I have living in this house rent free. This is a valuable time to push through and continue working as much as I can so if and when an opportunity arises I shall be ready.

I’m willing to let it all go sometimes. Thinking this is too hard and I should just go back to working some grunt job full time and saving for my future. I know I couldn't do it though, not for long. Mentally, physically and emotionally it would kill me. That is why I have to find my way. I can't quit now, I have come too far too fast. I can't stay away from art even if I pretend I can. I haven't even begun is how I feel deep down inside. I feel like there are things in me waiting to come out that I have no idea about. There is a life waiting to happen that I cannot comprehend. I'm not willing to settle for a life subsisting, accepting whatever scraps I can. I want to make my life work and be involved with something bigger than myself. I can't know what that will be but I can keep putting one foot in front of the other. It is about me connecting with myself more than anything. Time and time again I marvel at how in the process of making art I change. It is hard to explain how making something abstract changes you. It could be that it is nothing more than connecting with a part of yourself that you were blind to. In my mind there is no difference between a woman getting dressed up, putting on make-up, doing her hair and looking in the mirror to admire who she is. It's kind of an awful analogy, especially since I'm not one to do any of that anymore, but I know when I did that, and when I watch other women do that I can see that they have changed when they are dolled up and looking at themselves in the mirror. They are seeing what they believe to be a better part of themselves. Bringing out the beauty they think is only deep within and not obvious from the outer shell? Or perhaps they are seeing someone they wish they were but cannot be until they go through this ritual and then look at themselves and have others see them as this amplified person? Art is actually similar feeling except more substantial. I am putting something of myself there. Those objects I place together, those things I do that ends up turning into a piece of art, feels like a part of me that had no other way to be seen.

Looking at something I made with my own two hands is as close to finding that appreciation for beauty within myself and even outside of myself, that I know how to do. It isn't an admiration of what I did as much as what is possible, what can happen through me if I get out of the way and let it happen. It feels like magic. It is shocking and so right sometimes that you question if it is really that easy. How could putting totally irrelevant objects together feel so good and complete? I do not know, but I know it is real. And it feels like a discharge of energy that prior to the making of it, had no place to go to, and at times never would have existed. The energy is like a micro burst happening suddenly and seemingly from nowhere, art can feel like that when it is being created or has been finished.

11 comments:

Nellie's Needles said...

Oh, Paula, you do have a way with words as well as the power to "look within". Especially that last paragraph. Those are the only words I've seen that fits the feeling of the process of creating. Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to reading more.

self taught artist said...

thank you nellie, means much coming from you!

Steve Kane said...

Damn it. How can I blackmail you by threatening to show your memoir to the world if you go ahead and blog it?

self taught artist said...

very funny pancake face

San said...

Paula, you're right--artmaking is about "what is possible, what can happen through me if I get out of the way and let it happen." Magic is afoot.

Kim Hambric said...

So, when the book on your artwork is published, I expect to see that last paragraph on the book jacket.

TSL said...

Paula Paula Paula.
You are amazing.
I agree with Nellie's Needles ~ your last paragraph, it says it all.

Ellen said...

Beautifully said! I'm with everyone else, that's a wonderful last paragraph, tattoo it on your body somewhere, uh, well, maybe just print it out and hang it up to READ OFTEN.

self taught artist said...

I love knowing you guys get what I'm talking about, thanks for reading this!

Ken Devine said...

As a first-time visitor, I horoughly enjoyed reading this post.

paula said...

thank you ken...wow i re read this and thought who wrote this ? :)