March 13, 2010

Neat Messy Happy Sad

I was talking to a friend earlier this week about our own type A tendencies. We were in our children’s first grade classroom observing the kids doing an art project, a still life drawing based on a painting by Cezanne. It’s interesting to see how some kids create very specific renderings with meticulous planning and others are a naturally looser in the marks they make.

It took me years to get away from the heavy outlines of my youth. In high school I painted a cityscape of Venice. I titled it “Venice-rock” because it looked so much like the Flintstones’ Bedrock. I found comfort in having my colors neatly in place on the canvas. Really, at the time I couldn’t do it any other way.

In spite of my need for a certain order, I know that perfection is a flawed concept. Theoretically, if I wanted to line up a group of ducks in a row to photograph, by the time I would click the shutter - - they would be long gone. Turns out that there is no such thing as having your ducks in nice, neat row.

I wonder why we are so quick to categorize ourselves as this or that? I am thankful that through art-making I have found ways to let go of all those heavy outlines and embrace joyful spontaneity. Nothing good happens creatively if I am in my comfort zone.

I may talk a good game about blurring the lines, breaking with routine and trying something new. At the same time I know it would be impossible to step out of the box if I didn’t have a really sturdy one, with clearly defined walls to keep me feeling safe and loved.

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