I've set aside one day a week for my painting. I'm delving into my art in a way I've never had the discipline and will to do before. I've had the time, I've even had times where I had more money than I do now to throw at it. I've found something out:
The creation of art is less to do with time and money and more to do with compassion and the ability to keep a practice of discipline.
Sounding pretty Zen isn't it?
I know the methods of increasing my skills. Gestural drawings, using a mirror, careful draftsmanship, modeling and shading, and perspective are all in my box of tools. I can read books that tell me how to improve any of these. But what about the moment when I've redrawn a hand seven times and it's not right? That painful feeling of failure and inadequacy that comes with the realization that it's still not good enough?
That's where the compassion comes in.
definition that I liked was: "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."
I might put it a little differently:
The ability to empathize with pain and sorrow while not allowing oneself to be incapacitated by that sorrow.
I really think that if people allow themselves to feel the pain that something causes, they will naturally want to alleviate it. It's the ability to feel that pain honestly and without judgement that leads to action. But you know what? Allowing yourself to feel pain is hard. It's even harder when you're causing your own pain and frustration.
Not getting caught in a self depreciating loop.
Not giving up.
Not losing hope.
Just admitting honestly that it's going to take at least one more time to get that damn hand to look the way I want it to look. Feeling my own pain and not allowing myself to be stalled in my work. Picking up my kneaded eraser and carefully and methodically destroying the result of my labor so that I can pick up that pencil and try again and get it right this time.
Maybe Rembrandt or DaVinci didn't have that problem. Maybe everything came out perfectly the first time for them. I doubt it thought.
He looks a little haunted doesn't he?
So in the coming weeks I hope to share with you some of the practices I've explored in order to have greater compassion for my own artistic endeavors. Here's a prayer that has helped me:
Fear, She digs deep to find my heart.
Pain, She also does her part.
Hold that moment, find Their wisdom.
Love them both and let it flow.
Breath in deep and let it go.
Take up my tools and in the stillness,