“Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas,
dive deep and swim far.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It could almost be funny.
If it wasn’t quite so distressing.
It happens. Every single time. And I mean every single time.
Each time I start to create a new piece of art, I am absolutely stymied as to where to begin. I have absolutely no memory of how I made the other pieces.
I look back. I study the others. I dig up photos I took along the way, and still, it remains an absolute mystery as to how I achieved the finished product.
It’s like looking at a cake with no knowledge of how to bake. How does one possibly work the steps backward from that frosted concoction?
I have no idea.
I enter the room with a kind of quasi-vision of where I want this new Vancouver-inspired collage to go. But when I look at the canvas? I draw a complete blank.
Literally and metaphorically. Blank. Nada.
There is, of course, only one thing to do.
I pull on my big-girl panties and say, lookit darling, you have no clue, but then you never do…so just throw something at this canvas and we’ll see what happens.
I paste on some random bits of paper, arrange and spin them around. But still, it looks static and clean and not layered.
There is no depth, no distress, no ineffable wabi-sabi-ness, which is what I like about my other finished pieces…which were, apparently, created my aliens that took over my body and did it for me while I…while I did what exactly?
No idea. None.
It gets uglier as I keep going. It is not what I wanted but at least I’m doing something other than staring at the blank canvas. We might call this stage; ugly progress.
I keep layering and adding and then sanding it back and adding something else and guess what?
Slowly, a sort of physical remembering flickers awake. It’s really quite simple. Just like life, I have to keep building on what came before.
No matter what before looked like.
I simply have to keep learning as I go, and sometimes tell myself that, yes, that was kind of bad, but all you have to do is keep going.
And piece by piece something new comes from all that happened previously.
And maybe it’s not even close to what we initially imagined for our
life art, but hey, this new version of things, although not quite the same as that original vision, has its own way of being beautiful.
Such is life. Such is art.
We take our broken pieces. We take the torn fragments. We mend and glue and and hold ourselves together and we just keep adding and building from wherever we are…right now.
And it behooves us to remember that we have undertaken to build a life/art with depth and that kind of work takes time and lots of mistakes and endless wrong turns. In fact, sometimes it’s quite a mess and all those ugly layers are often things you’d rather forget, but we build upon them because ultimately it is always more interesting than splashing about in the shallow end.
Let us leave the superficial and the shallows for those people who believe making a statement is about wearing the right brand of clothing.
We’re doing bigger things darlings…we’re building a life of depth.
Let us dive into the deep end.
“Either you decide to stay
in the shallow end of the pool
or you go out into the ocean.”
– Christopher Reeve