A few weeks back a friend commented, “Cheryl you’re always in a painting or writing class. Don’t you already know enough?”
“What’s wrong with searching for new ways to keep the creative juices flowing?” I countered. But her comment made me pause and question my motives and in so doing I realized I’d been attending many more classes/workshops than normal. That realization led me to yet another very disturbing one—the true reason for my abundant class-hop–I’d lost my spark, my muse. You can fill in the blank for whatever you call your own overwhelming drive to create. I’d been attending classes hoping to find it again, perhaps lying in a corner, or maybe it would magically jump out of someone who obviously processed more than they needed, and into me.
The gut-wrenching blow of losing both my creative outlets at once left me lost, and feeling quite sorry for myself. Then, as coincidence or the universe would have it, another friend—one who I envy for her abundant talent—within the same week said, “I think I’m going to just focus on the day job, because my creative mojo is obviously gone and it’s just too depressing to keep trying.” Now that ladies and gentlemen ended my pity party, because the mere thought of relying solely on the day job made me want to run screaming from the room and into oncoming traffic.
So I did what I’d been doing. I attended another class. Alas no luck. I then turned to books—piles of books now lie on the floor next to my bed—trust me when I say piles, visualize stacks upon stacks. Yet still no mojo. I can however, recommend the two which helped me the most, they are—The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron and Finding Your Visual Voice, by Dakota Mitchell and Lee Haroun.
If you’ve made it this far into my blog have no fear, for my sorry tale does have a happy ending. From the writing side it came to me as I slugged—picture a real slug moving slowly across your computer screen—through reworking word, by every aching word, of a very short story for the sixth time! My brain said, “Cheryl why does this story sound so much better at 2am when you’re rewriting it in the dark?” The proverbial light bulb went off over my head and I heard fellow Shadowspinner, Eric Whitchey say, “You get too caught up in editing as you go, just close your eyes or put a blindfold on and type away.” Now when he gave me this valuable bit of information it was to help me with pace, giving me the ability to write more quickly. Amazingly it helped me and continues to help me, enjoy my writing again. Yes, the writing muse is back sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear as I create with my eyes blindfolded.
Then there was yet another class. I’m an oil painter; have always been an oil painter. But as I said, of late I was bored, not excited about what I was creating. I was just going through the motions. One day I happened upon artist and writer Alan Clark’s paintings. He calls them “controlled accidents”. When I asked, he said he created them with acrylic paint, not oils. I hated acrylics. My typical response to painting with acrylics was—“I like to play with my paint and I want vibrancy in my paintings; you just can’t get that with acrylics”. But as I said, there was this class given by Alan. So I took it and painted with acrylics. Not only did I paint with acrylics—instead of a brush—I used balloons, yes balloons, to design a most spectacular abstract painting! No boredom anywhere in sight, as I laughed and felt like a child again, enjoying the sheer pleasure of seeing what I could create with shear abandon. The fact that it was all done with a balloon still astounds me. I disagree with Alan on only one thing. For me, this type of painting is most assuredly not controlled—the type of oil painting I had immersed myself in most assuredly was. As for my delusional belief about the lack of vibrancy with acrylics—you can see for yourself below. I happy to say I’m jazzed once again to place paint on a canvas and see where it leads me. I’m now rediscovering my passion for oil painting and incorporating acrylics and balloons whenever possible.
In conclusion—never give up or stop learning. Your mojo is out there somewhere, you just have to go out and find it. What have you done, or discovered in search of yours?
Happy Accident in Blue
An Original Painting by Cheryl Owen-Wilson (MeCo)