When the Muses Whisper in the Night

Making Decisions for an Approaching Art Festival

Making Decisions for an Approaching Art Festival

That part of us that creates best is not a driven, disciplined automaton, functioning from willpower, with a booster of pride to back it up. This is operating out of self-will. You know the image: rising at dawn with military precision, saluting the desk, the easel, the drawing board . . . 

Over any extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us. . .

True, our artist may rise at dawn to greet the typewriter or easel in the morning stillness. But this event has more to do with a child’s love of secret adventure than with ironclad discipilne. What other people may view as discipline is actually a play date that we make with our artist child: “I’ll meet you at 6:00 A.M. and we’ll goof around with that script, painting, sculpture . . .”

Our artist child can best be enticed to work by treating work as play.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way 

Julia’s words here resonate with my adult life in ways that put a genuine spring in my step tonight. This blog has been virtually writing itself since Saturday evening, which didn’t actually end until I treated myself to breakfast at IHOP at 4 a.m. and then staggered wearily to my bed. Over the past few weeks I have felt imprisoned as I’ve gathered, sorted and inputted into the computer a year’s worth of receipts, records and figures to file my taxes. I was so beleaguered with all those details that by the time I finished and filed yesterday, the first thing I did was organize and record everything from the first quarter of this year. I’ll be damned if I ever let myself get caught like this again. I could report tomorrow to file my 2015 taxes if the period ended today. Working on taxes was grueling labor and required unfaltering discipline (because I wasn’t doing it throughout the year). But for me, reading, journaling and painting are play time, and though I have friends who have called me “disciplined” I see no discipine here–this is fun. This is recreation, and I love it.

I begin this post with the photo above, as I’ll be participating in a local art festival next weekend, and the time has arrived to gather my collection and make some decisions as to what to display in the booth and what to leave at home. A few paintings will need to be completed and matted, it appears. It felt great to look over my recent body of work once again, and pick up the brush to resume painting. It felt good to draw again, dream again, visualize again.

Reading and Writing Journal Reflections for Pure Pleasure

Reading and Writing Journal Reflections for Pure Pleasure

After a few hours of painting and planning, I then left the studio behind and retired to my recently reconfigured room down the hall to resume reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. This novel really engaged me a year ago, reading a copy from my school library. This past Christmas I purchased my own and have been taking heavy notes and recording countless observations from the text. I hold little in common with the writer’s philosophy, but this fiction story shows an outstanding knowledge of modern architecture, and the intrigue of the plot I find very gripping. As the night moved on, my imagination was unhinged and I truly enjoyed thinking over some of the excellent sentences recorded. Julia Cameron certainly called it right, when she spoke of these sessions as “play.”

Drawing Near the End of Another A. P. Art History Term

Drawing Near the End of Another A. P. Art History Term

My A. P. and Regular Art History classes are moving into their final grading period, so this evening I’ve returned to reading and planning the final sessions. The twentieth century has always fascinated me, and I like rising to the challenge of presenting the myriad of complex and short-run theories that stormed through that era. Tomorrow we will resume surrealism and I love talking about psychic automatism and how Roberto Matta passed that love on to Robert Motherwell and the Abstract Expressionists. I never know exactly how to convey to the students my deep love for the contributions of Motherwell. No one would see any visual symptoms of his art in my own creations, but his passion for study and writing are matters I feel on the deepest level. He remains one of the very few artists I know who was passionate about the writing and ideas expressed by James Joyce,calling him the “Shakespeare of modernism.” He said Joyce gave him the impetus to paint, and he has done the same for me. One of many reasons I love the study of art history is because the discipline frequently takes me into the realms of philosophy and literature.

Wading Through Several Decades of Journals

Wading Through Several Decades of Journals

Last Thursday, during a break from my lecturing, I picked up a stack of my old journals, and leafing through them, was surprised again and again to read observationss I had written so long ago that I no longer recall even thinking them. Sometimes I worry about that, wondering if aging is already causing me to lose vital memories. Thank God the journals served as nets for trapping some of these ideas in flight. But how exactly I can recall and organize things written across more than 130 volumes dating back to 1987 I have yet to determine. I would love for my collection of journals to serve as maps for organizing wonder. As they are, they present a lengthy chronological highway of disjointed details. Nevertheless, like old friends in conversation, they kept me company last night and into the wee hours of the morning over coffee until I decided to go for breakfast.

Back to Studio Work Sunday Afternoon

Back to Studio Work Sunday Afternoon

Reading portions of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town has induced me to return to some photos taken long ago of an old farmhouse I occupied back in 1987. These photos were taken within the last ten years, showing a structure ready to collapse. The interior is no longer inhabitable, but the century-old house was still livable for me in the late 80’s. The memories of living there, while I was in the dissertation phase of my Ph.D. studies, are sweet mingled with bitter. Nevertheless the worthier ones make me want to paint the house and land again, hopefully reviving some Proustian thoughts that deserve to be revisited. Perhaps in a later blog I’ll talk more about those things, as this painting grows.

muse 6

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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9 Responses to “When the Muses Whisper in the Night”

  1. createarteveryday Says:

    Good luck at the festival. And good for you, getting the first quarter in the books!! Have a great evening. Do you have about two months before summer vacation? How long into the summer do you need to report to work? The summer must give you lots of painting time. I enjoyed your post, and loving the painting so far. Now I need to go a (tax) client. 🙂


  2. createarteveryday Says:



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