You can't listen to everyone of course, and for me the secret is tuning out the others and just listening to the unnamed voice that I learned to trust probably 15 years ago. I'd been making art before that for decades, but somehow I began to trust myself and the work that is truly my own began to come forth. It was only then that I knew that I'd slipped into my own skin as an artist. Maybe I'll call it my touchstone voice.
It's a quiet voice, one that encourages letting go and trusting. And there's the big struggle....giving over control and allowing the process to unfold in its own time. Patience is required.Of course, my ego wants to control the work, wants to bring to life the vision in my head. That's the first step in letting go and eventually it happens with me, because I'm forced to admit defeat by hitting the wall. When the work goes badly session after session, I know, if I'm listening to the touchstone voice, it's because I haven't let go. Here's how the touchstone would speak to me, if it happened in straightforward English, which it doesn't, because I think the touchstone speaks in a kind of pre-language.
"Forget that idea in your head, it's coming from the wrong place....you'll see the essence of that idea come to be, but it's not going to happen the way you are going about it. You are waiting and pacing by the front door for something to happen, but the work is going to come to you through the back door, wearing clothing you won't at first recognize. It will come like an apparition, in layers, building slowly. It may take some time to materialize, but you'll recognize it when it does."
And it's true. At least for me, the best work I've made happens that way. You've never seen the other stuff, because it never gets finished. Those pieces get tossed out or those first "cognitive thinking" attempts get painted over and I let the work emerge as it wants to. I quit watching the front door and sit quietly, waiting for the creaky sound of the back door opening.
So the photos here are a work in progress...the back door is unlatched and open. Lots of layers of gouache, lots of letting go, building I know not what exactly. I don't know where this is going....the "me" with the old worn out brush in my hand....I'm the last to know. Sometimes that conversation and the struggle happens in another room out of my hearing and I can actually enjoy the process. Like here....I'm enjoying watching this piece unfold. This is gouache on a luscious, sturdy handmade paper. Eventually, I'd like to have some sewing on it as well....and just whose voice is that?
I must leave this piece for a time as my husband and I travel to visit family for the holidays. Wishing you peace and joy this season. I'll keep in touch on my travels. Cheers!