Deregulated, then Supported

ZOELAB DAY 65

My brother has come from Amsterdam for a visit! I am very happy about it.

The past few weeks, I got a little knocked off my routine due to work. My work is fun, and enlivening, but it brings me away from the inner world. It is a saving grace to have ZOELAB to bring me back to that other, emotional and subtle world of experience and expression. Normally, getting knocked off my routine would result in feeling lost, but thanks to this built in structure, I cannot get lost for very long.  This is something I like to teach in my workshops: structure or routine is very useful for our creative productivity.

I was feeling uninspired and exhausted and was considering giving in to the temptation of losing myself even more into someone else’s world in a movie rather than engaging in a ZOELAB process. I decided to check my email, and had received a birthday note from a dear artist friend and loyal reader who sent me some very inspiring words of encouragement about my new paintings, (and play dough) which lifted me up. It was just enough to give me the ignition to dig down through the tiredness, and produce another painting about the experience of deregulation and then support. I also had a wonderful phone conversation with another dear artist friend earlier today, which helped put into focus how important it is to support art-making--our own and each other’s. 

It’s a wonderful reminder to all who risk existing in the precarious and vulnerable territory of being an artist. I give a lot of thought to what it means to be an artist and how difficult it is and how strong one has to be. We live in a culture where the arts are not as supported as they should be. Not only on a governmental, financial level, but on an unconscious cultural level. We all carry around with us mostly unconscious assumptions about what it is to be an artist. There is a voice in us that supports those assumptions, the voice can be subtle, so it is not always easy to catch it. I have spoken with many self-professed and closeted artists about the discouraging voice they carry with them, and how often it keeps them doing what they need to do. It takes real strength and courage to keep creating, despite this voice, which I call the inner critic. The more aware we are of our inner critic and the familiar phrases it tells us, the more likely we are to defeat him/her. If we are not aware of the presence of the inner critic, we unconsciously project him/her onto others around us, or the general public, rather than seeing that our biggest detractor is most often inside us already. I know the inner critic to say such things as “no one cares about your art, it’s too personal. It’s not really art. It’s selfish to be an artist. Your writing is too serious, not enough humor. No one cares about abstract art. People feel alienated when you talk about spirituality.” Etc., etc. etc. I don’t mean to say that the inner critic doesn’t have some use, but too often it comes in too early or too strongly, before we are ready to put our work under the discerning and sometimes distorted eye of the inner critic.

I find that the antidote to the spell that the critic puts us under is reminding ourselves that it is not up to us to judge the work we make, we make art out of human and spiritual necessity. It is the need to express, communicate to ourselves and to others. To find different forms of language within the realm of imagination, dreams, emotion, the body. To use our creativity to find new ways of experiencing and describing that experience. We share our art with others so that we can make a full circle of connection. Not to judge or be judged. We all need to support ourselves and each other, so that we keep finding the courage to create.

Thank you to all of you that have encouraged and supported me in this project. Your encouragement inspires me to keep encouraging others.